Sunday, February 21, 2010


I remember the sound of Estes rockets zipping apart the summer sky. We'd be standing around together, my dad, my brother and sisters and I, my dad kneeling to light the fuse and stepping back. It meant liberation from the earth, power over fire, over gunpowder, over all of us, and all the neighbors who could hear it and looked up to outrace the sound with their eyes and catch a glimpse of the bright needle as it reached its zenith and poppped a tiny plastic parachute. It never occurred to me that we were the only family that did this, and why, not until a few summers later we heard that sound from someone else's lawn, off in the trees, across the endless flat terrain of our subdivision. We searched the sky but couldn't see it. And never found out who else had glued together the tubes and fins and stuffed the little cone with its chute.

My dad was always picking up new hobbies for us to try, rock polishing, glass art, candles, electric trains. Everything was a lesson in how things worked, what they were made of and why they reacted to what you did to them. Why can you cut glass underwater with a scissors? My father knew. He was half a class shy of his masters' in physics. He was nearly finished, out of Loyola in New Orleans, when the money ran out and my parents moved, with me and my baby sister, to Maryland.
(to be continued)


  1. Hi, Iso. I wonder if I might share something with you. With you, specifically.

    Know what I wish for every evening? What I want more than I've wanted anything ever before in my life ever?

    I wish that my mom and dad were still alive. He'd be 73 this June; she'd be 70 this July.

    They'd stay with me in my ramshackle farmhouse in the middle of corn and bean fields outside of Piqua, and I would take care of them.

    Dad would help me plant a peach tree orchard, keep it pruned, help me rake the leaves and burn them, putting the potash on the compost heap.

    She'd help me in the garden, when her knees weren't aching, probably even if they were. We'd can thousands of quarts of tomatoes and peaches and beans every September.

    I'd cook them dinner, the same meals she cooked for all of us growing up, at least as close to them as I could muster. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, I'd make popcorn for them, not microwave popcorn either, real popcorn. And we'd watch TV together, especially the CBS Hallmark Hall Of Fame Made For TV movies.

    We'd watch a lot of movies, maybe even have popcorn during the week.

    I'd build them fires in the winter, and make them lemonade in the summer.

    They'd live well into their nineties. I'd take care of them, and they'd take care of me.

    Sons lose their moms all the time. Rarely does a mom lose her son. My heart aches for you and your loss. If you don't give up, there's not much of an excuse for me to, is there?

  2. That sounds like heaven, swit. I think I've decided to make up my own afterlife, and if it doesn't turn out that way, so what.

    And no, you are not allowed to give up. I lost my dad in 1979. Maybe I've told you the story.

  3. Your dad sounds like mine. Only he wanted us to learn everything so that we could figure out how they worked & then fix it & do it ourselves. We were raised to be independent, especially since there are 5 girls, he didn't want us to be totally dependent on a man.

    he always tells us, "you can either sit around & boo hoo until someone comes along to do it for you & then you could wait a very long time, or you can do it yourself & then be done with it".

    We all learned to be mechanics, plumbers, electricians. Woodworkers, gardeners & handymans. My mom taught us to cook & sew & make things out of nothing.


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