Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh, And There's This

While I'm on the subject, here is one more thing about my father. Last night I found a character sketch I had written about him for a college assignment in 1982. Even the paper it was typed on looks old--and yes, I said "typed." I had a big, noisy Royal electric. Here is an excerpt from the sketch--I find it interesting because now 25 years later and years after my father has died, I still describe him in the same terms:

It's a big event when he makes his annual pot of stew. The counter is covered with pounds of chicken, pork, beef, cans of corn, beans, tomatoes, bags of potatoes, bottles of catsup, hot sauce, cloves of garlic, shakers of pepper, salt, curry powder, sage, sweet hazel, and a pinch of tobacco here and there. He stirs the big pot for hours, and we go in shifts watching it. When it's finally done, he dumps it into boxes and boxes of Ball jars. Then he stores it in the dark corner of the basement, grins, and says, "It's gonna be a long, hard winter, girls. But we sure won't go hungry."

My father lives well with those around him, but he holds back for no one. If he wants to spit, he spits. If he wants to bake or make tons of stew, he does. And if he wants to dance, he dances no matter where he is. He is hardly a misfit, but he is a remnant for a past era. He reminds the rest of us that a man can still be free of outside pressures. When I tell him to stop spitting on things, he fusses and ends the argument by ignoring me. When my mother tells him to stop swearing, he stops, but only until she leaves the room. He loves his family and protects what is his, but he remains unaffected by his surroundings.

5 comments:

dive said...

Even back then you seemed to acknowledge that he'd got this whole "life" thing sussed.

My Dad made great stew, too.
Mmmm … Dad's stew …

Lizabeth said...

I really miss his Christmas stew. I can remember the way the house smelled like stew and coffee and old books, and hearing all of you laughing all around the house, and grandaddy showing me how to cut radishes just right. Good stuff.

Robyn said...

I had forgotten about the radishes. "Eat you a radish, Rob."

sister # one said...

I didn't know Daddy put tobacco in the stew! That must be why Mama just can't get it quite the same.

lynn said...

What are ball jars and how long did he keep the stuff. Did it make you ill when you ate it again?