The Postscript: My father, the Agate Polisher
Published 12:01 am Wednesday, June 17, 2020
I don’t think it’s my imagination that Father’s Day seems like a last-minute add-on.
“Oh! We have Mother’s Day. We probably should do something for fathers…”
On Mother’s Day, a bouquet of flowers or brunch seems to do nicely every year. There isn’t an equivalent gesture for Father’s Day. The gift suggestions now being advertised all seem a little desperate. A watch? A wallet? A gas grill? A “whiskey set”?
Since my dad’s watch and wallet are with him 90% of his waking life, I’m thinking he’d rather choose his own. A gas grill seems a bit much. (Mom gets eggs Benedict and dad gets a $1200 grill?) I’m not even sure what a “whiskey set” is but I know my dad wouldn’t drink whiskey if you paid him.
My dad has now spent more time retired than he spent working—which is a wonderful milestone. He was hired while he was still in college to work as an engineer and he stayed with the same company his entire career. My dad wore horn-rimmed glasses and carried a pocket protector and a slide rule in his shirt pocket. He sang bass in the church choir which meant he was always in the back row and I could only see him when he was stretching for a high note and got up on his toes to reach it.
My dad was always ready to try something new. He raised bees in the backyard and helped us dip candles in his workshop and polish agates in a tumbler. I remember the sound of the rock tumbler, polishing away, and a perfectly smooth agate coming out.
Then, every July when the plant where my father worked was shut down, my family would pile into the car pulling a pop-up camper and head out on vacation.
The story goes that my sister and I were quarreling. We generally got along pretty well but a full day in a hot car could get on anyone’s nerves. On this particular day, we were arguing about (of all things) who was going to get in the lake first once we got to the campground.
Dad was driving. Mom was sitting in the front seat with the dog. My sister and I were busy squabbling and no one saw my father as he quietly emptied his pockets, removed his belt, and silently unhooked his seatbelt. (This was before cars had all the buzzers and bells.) We drove into the campground and, the moment we hit the parking spot, my father threw open his door and sprinted straight to the lake and dove in. My sister and I sat there in stunned silence.
I don’t remember what happened after that. I just remember my father, flying into the lake, proving both of us wrong—and what an amazing dad he was—in one lightning move.
My dad doesn’t move quite as fast these days. He calls himself “an old geezer,” although I can’t imagine anyone else does. He still builds things in his woodshop and splits wood with the log splitter and rides bike with mom. He still routinely surprises us. And he still listens to the worries and complaints of his daughters.
My sister and I hand these worries to him like rough stones and my dad handles them like the agate polisher we had as children. By the time my dad is through with them, our worries are worn smooth. Our worries are no longer sharp or dangerous. They are polished to a gentle luster by our dad’s loving concern.
Happy Father’s Day.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.