Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering the Little Things

The other day, some friends on Facebook started talking about the Varsity, a greasy, fast-food establishment in Atlanta. It's been around since before my father went to Georgia Tech and it was one of our family's traditions to go there -- often after church on Sundays.

Thinking about the Varsity, made me think about what our family ordered and how it was handled... Usually, we sat in the upper "newer" area. We'd all sit down and Papa would take a napkin from the holder and remove the pen from his shirt pocket. Then he'd write down:

  • chili only dog (and write tally marks (not actual numbers) next to that depending on how many people wanted 'em.)

  • PC (usually only two tally marks -- for him and Mama)

  • FO (that was my order)

  • onion rings (one tally mark)

  • fries (one tally mark)

And, to tell you the truth, I don't have any idea what everybody else ordered. I think Mary Celeste ordered a hamburger.

And when we were young, we used to love to take about 5 straws from the straw container and put them together and pretend like they were very long cigarettes.

Anyway! When I started to remember how my father took our order, it made me think of his handwriting -- which led to me thinking about a lot of teeny weensy (an expression he also used) other things that I loved about my father, which were really just teeny weensy things. And yet, they were things that made my father, my father.

Things like:

  • the way he loved to sit on the front porch during thunderstorms

  • the special bed he made on the floorboard of the car when we went on long trips

  • the way he folded towels

  • the way he brushed his teeth (I still can hear that sound)

  • the way he said "Amen" after he heard good church music

  • the way he raked leaves and worked in the yard

  • the way he swept and mopped the front porch

  • the way he turned around to back up the car

  • the way he rubbed my legs when I had growing pains

  • the way he wrapped me up in a towel and carried me back to my bedroom after a bath

  • silly songs he sang like: "Happy birthday to you. You live in a zoo. You look like a monkey and you smell like one, too." and "Hattie was in the garden howin' 'round the 'maters. Hattie ran 'round the huckleberry bush and I hit her in the eye with a tater."

  • his silly little recitation: "Ma, make 'Lian leave Jule alone." (Lillian and Julie)

  • the tears in his eyes when he sang old songs

  • the way he answered the phone at work.... "Rrrobert Hall"

  • riding the waves with him at Jekyll

  • the way he hugged relatives and people he loved

  • seein' him talk to Uncle Wheeler on the front porch when Uncle Wheeler and Aunt Ruby would come to Atlanta

It's funny how one little memory can spark lots of others.

What a blessing to have had a father who gave me memories in which I can take comfort even now.

It's the little things that warm my heart.

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