Real Life

August 26, 2010

Captain Alison Mansfield Arnold's name on the Wall of Honor, Washington D.C.

My flight home from Philadelphia was the longest one on record.  It all has to do with frame of mind.  I was at the gate in PHL waiting for the plane, texting to my friends that had just dropped me off when my phone rang.  Ahh, a brother – must be important.  Well, my Dad died.

Thinking back to some of the things that my Dad meant to me brings up the time he made a Japanese dollhouse for me (complete with sliding shoji screen door), because I was obsessed with all things Japanese and particularly with books written by Rumer Godden about two little Japanese dolls living in England, ‘Miss Happiness and Miss Flower’.

My Dad taught me that you leave a place better than it was when you got there, a borrowed thing was cleaned even if it was dirty when you borrowed it, be truthful even when it’s hard, put a thing back where it belongs (though he rarely did), and he tried to get me to like egg salad and Dorito chip sandwiches (ugh).  He also liked pickles, mayo and peanut butter, (what a weirdo).  My Dad was an inventor and one time, I was playing  the game ‘statues’ in the yard of a friend that overlooked the neighborhood.  Someone yelled out:  look at the car with a sail on it!  Of course, I’m frozen (because of the game), hear that and think “oh gawd, please, PLEASE don’t let it be my Dad”… of course it was.  He was testing an idea in aerodynamics to invent a more efficient sail.  To a kid like me at the time it was mortifying.  To an adult like me now it’s enthralling to think that some guy would do such a thing in the 1960’s  and not even think about how it would look to the neighbors.  The concept was more important then the strange looks the action might incur – in fact, he didn’t even think how it would look to anyone.  Pretty bold stuff for an artist like me.

Dad was brilliant, awkward, an outside-of-the-box thinker and witty.  Dad was also short fused, impatient, a man of few words and yet often incredibly wise.  He didn’t have time for fools and yet strangers were just friends he hadn’t met yet.  He always had time to talk to check-out clerks, other people in line, or even little kids.

I will miss him terribly.

Near my Dad's name on the Wall of Honor at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.


8 Responses to “Real Life”

  1. marie s said

    Oh my dear Mer. I am so glad we made it to the memorial. I will always remember that.
    From your description, it sounds as if a bit of the father rubbed off on the daughter.
    Holding your heart in loving, caring arms.
    Love and huge hugs dear one.

  2. Sue Robertson said

    Meredith, I am so sorry to hear of your dad’s death. I know you are never prepared for it. I will be thinking of you. By the way, when I was a kid I too ate peanut butter and mayo sandwiches!

  3. meredith –
    so sorry for your loss. my dad passed five years ago and i still remember the peanut butter and mayo sandwiches. he never added pickles, but potato chips were big. we should open a sandwich shop called “dads” and offer some of these favorites! i’ll be thinkin’ of you.

    • meredith11 said

      Thanks Susan – who knew that Dad’s liked weirdo sandwiches so much? Maybe it was the era. A sandwich shop with those odd combination sandwiches could be a hit! Thanks again.

  4. Syd Wellman said

    Mer, I have been thinking about you, my friend. I also had a special relationship with my dad – and he piled potato chips on what he called a “Dagwood” sandwich. You will always have those memories.
    Much love. Syd

    • meredith11 said

      I’m now coming to the conclusion that all Dads belong to the ‘Inventive Sandwich Club’. I do love the idea of opening a restaurant called Dad’s with the weird sandwich menu…but who would really eat them?

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