Holidays are all about families, so I thought I'd share a little bit of my own.
Last Thanksgiving one of my sisters and I traveled to his my dad’s newly built home in Omaha for the holiday. Anytime a sibling offers to make this trip with me I jump on it. As I said, I love him, but being the only ‘new’ thing to focus on is far too much for me. I want some dispersion of all that crazy talk that’s going to happen. This particular sister is a great one to take this trip with because she’s the sibling that has always managed to maintain a peace with him that the rest of us have struggled with throughout our relationship with him. She’s also really funny, especially after a glass or two of wine, which, make no mistake, is another necessary ingredient in a successful trip to Omaha.
In the bathroom off the kitchen my dad has a plaque that says “I wasn’t born in Nebraska, but I got here as soon as I could”. So, normal is at a premium in these parts.
I started Thanksgiving day by going out for a run. I admit, I get a kick out of my dad shaking his head at me over his morning coffee cup and paper as I head out the front door, he thinks runnings proper place is boot camp and can't figure out why someone would willingly do it. When I run in Omaha, I’m amazed by the wind – it’s just different there, I can totally buy a windstorm that picks up a house ala Dorothy style. My dad shakes his head at me over this too, and usually says something like “we are in the goddamn plain states, what did you expect?” Ah, the cheery loving bosom of family.
After dinner, sister, step mom and myself clean up, do some dishes and settle around the kitchen table with a bottle of wine. Dad follows the American tradition of falling asleep on the couch. Upon awaking, my dad decides it’s time for sister and I to learn some things. He comes into the kitchen pours himself a glass of wine and plunks two hand guns down on the kitchen table. Try not to be alarmed at the alcohol/handgun combination. A lecture in how my sister and I as single women who live alone follows. We apparently should ARM OURSELVES, and if the GD airlines weren’t run by Nazis he’d give us these two pistols to take home. This lecture ends with him saying if our homes were invaded by PUNK BASTARDS who think IT’S THEIR RIGHT TO TAKE WHAT YOU’VE EARNED we should barricade ourselves in a bathroom and when they (the punk bastards) get to the door START SHOOTING. He goes on to tell us how prepared he is to defend his home against home invasion. Apparently, my father has enough guns in his home to arm a small country. Some are secured in a 300 pound guns safe in the basement, the rest are hidden all over the home.. just waiting for PUNK BASTARDS to show up and challenge my 75 year old father. Trust me, these PUNK BASTARDS will be very sorry if they stumble into my Dads quiet suburban, and yes, heavily armed, home.
As I recall my sister and I said things like “Yeah!” “Punks!” and “Great idea, dad”. Lecture finished, daughters impressed, Dad went back to his spot on the couch and commenced cussing at the football game.
The next day, my step mom had to run some food over to a member of her church. Apparently the wife of this family had had a liver transplant and the church had organized meal delivery for them. She tells me I should come, apparently these people spend a fair amount of time rescuing dogs and have quite a pack. Eager to get out of the house and with the lure of paw pads and wagging tails, I was in. In the end we all piled into my dads truck and headed out, fried chicken and sides with sister and I on the back seat. As we head down one rural mid-western road, my dad hits the brakes and shouts “Look Girls, there’s a dead deer!” Now, I admit to looking at dead animals when I pass, but not with this level of excitement. Sister and I exchanged a puzzled glance and made nice affirmative noises. Dad seems appeased, but then says “We’ll have to stop and look at that when we come back”. More puzzled looks pass between sister and I.
As promised on the return trip, Dad pulls off the road at the scene of the crime and insists we all get out and check out the dead deer. Sister and are completely flummoxed, and I at least am somewhat alarmed. We climb out of the car and watch as our father lifts the head of the deer by the antlers, clucks disapprovingly, and says “Yeah, he was a big buck”. Dad puts the head down and we all walk back to the truck. If my sister and I hadn’t had years of practice laughing silently we would never been able to make it back to the car without explaining to our father what was so damn funny. I’m not sure we even knew.
At home later that winter and shopping, I found a nifty wine opener that had all these exclamation points following the words "ergonomic" and "easy use" so I picked a couple up. My step mother suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and I remembered how she struggled with the one they had when I was there. I got a nice phone call from my step mom thanking me and telling me how much she liked it. Winna! Winna! Chicken dinna!
This past spring I tried to call my dear old dad on his birthday, and couldn’t reach him. He’s not usually difficult to track down so I called my sisters and asked if they had spoken to him. My oldest sister says she has, and everything is okay now, but the house was struck by lightning the night before and burned to the ground. He and my step mom were able to get the dogs, some family jewelry and THE CORKSCREW out before losing everything else. That’s right. They saved the corkscrew. The house and all of the contents are ashes, but the corkscrew made it.
We all need priorities people.