My dad passed away last week, and it's been a week filled with emotion and so many memories for all of us. It's funny how the most random memories will come to mind when you're thinking back over all of the years. Stu was a quiet, unassuming man. He was more of the listener than the talker. He will always be remembered for his Stuisms~one liners that were snips of wisdom or opinion. Some of them were pretty damn funny. He loved his work and his family.
The memories that I have of my dad from my childhood are many. I remember him driving his blue El Camino. He would cram all 4 of us kids in there to get us to school, all the while balancing a cup of hot instant coffee on his lap. He never spilled it.
Stu was in the electronics business, and because of that, we were always the first house on the block to have 'new' gadgets.....like a microwave, VCR, 2 telephone lines to our house, and cell phones (when they were the size of a brick and had to be plugged into the lighter in the car).
He loved the country oldies, especially Johnny Cash and the song A Boy Named Sue. He never did learn all of the words to that and many other songs, but he would move his mouth along and try to have us believe that he was singing. We knew better.
On Saturday mornings, when my mom would be at work, we would wait for the sound of the vacuum cleaner banging into our bedroom doors. It was is way to let us know that it was time to get up and start cleaning the house.
There was also the time that many of us in the household were sick with the flu, and my dad decided that he would help out and make breakfast for everyone so he (for some reason) decided to make peanut butter waffles. You can't imagine how incredibly awful peanut butter waffles could make the house smell. I think we all puked an extra round because of it. The thought of that recipe to this day makes my stomach turn.
I will never forget the rafting trip down the North Santiam where my dad took the 4 of us kids, plus a neighbor friend on a rafting trip. We were not prepared for the adventure, and we got totally lost and ended up in some remote wilderness and had to hike our way out before dusk. Luckily, we stumbled upon a random house and they allowed us to use their phone to call my mom to come and get us. What an experience!
He then got a real boat for our family and that is how we spent our weekends from the ages of about 11-15 at various lakes like Detroit and Foster. Of course, the propeller would always get chopped up on the rocks, and he would spend half the trip cussing over the damaged blades.
He also taught us all to love fishing, and I will always remember the time he took us to a spot where they had just stocked hundreds of 12" rainbow trout. I think that we brought home about 80 of them. I think they were all illegally caught.
My dad always ate all of our potato skins...which was perfect because we didn't like the skins. He always made us drink all of our milk. I didn't like that so much.
One of the greatest lessons my dad taught me still holds true to this day and I put it to use occasionally. When I would refill his coffee cup to the rim with hot coffee and carry it to him, he always told me not to look at the cup...if you don't look at it, it won't spill. It really works.
Stu was a speed reader. He could read a book at the speed of light. This always amazed me. He loved mysteries and suspense thrillers.
Stu's typical outfit was his jeans, a plaid shirt, and his loafers. One shirt that he wore proudly was known as his 'L.P.' (low pocket). This was a shirt that I gave him for Christmas one year that I found for a great price. The only problem with this shirt was that it had the pocket sewn quite low, so when he reached across to get his ciggs, he didn't lift his arm up..it was parallel to his reach. He wore that shirt proudly.
My dad was the master of being able to fix, build, or install anything. He loved it when a project called for his assistance. When all of us kids bought our first homes over the years, Stu was like a kid in a candy shop in anticipation for the work that lay ahead. He would add outlets and cable wires for every room of every house. ("A chicken in every pot!") When I bought my first house (a 1912 fixer) he was pretty much at my door each Saturday morning by 7:00 ready to go. Together we installed wood floors, tiled the bathroom, changed out lights,electrical wiring, painted, new wax ring for the toilet; the list goes on and on and on. After I got married, he and Dan built a bedroom/bathroom addition on to the house. Those were great times. I will always savor those memories, as we were a really good working team and he taught me a lot. He would tell me what tool he needed out of his bucket, and I knew what he was talking about. All he ever wanted in exchange was an egg salad sandwich and a Grapefruit Soda. Well, maybe one extra for the drive home.