Friends and neighbors, I thought you’d like to see an excerpt from my book on Father’s Day. Be sure to read till the end and click on the links which appear below.
This Father’s Day for the first time in my life, there won’t be a
live father in the equation. He checked out at the height of a
hot and muggy Illinois summer aged 91 and so I became an
orphan, suddenly in need of the man I fought with, ignored,
irked, irritated…. and despite every provocation and prediction
loved, for close on 70 years.
For there was always love, even if it was cut with hemlock.
What is love anyway? For me it is that memory of high summer,
that day when I was 10 or so, wasting on the Mississippi, bonding
with my achingly young father, just the two of us and as many
watermelons as two connoisseurs could devour, savoring only
the deep red of a melon’s perfection, all else thrown into
Old Man River thereby enriching its distinctive flavor.
Likely, he had been recruited by organizer’s of the Church’s “pot
luck” supper, as much part of the liturgy as the Athanasian Creed,
and more tasty by far.
He had a pick-up, a task, and a young son he didn’t know
very well. So the ladies of our lives said “Take Laddie with you,
Donald Marshall, and skeedadle.” Thus commenced our epic
ride together, in search of the biggest melons, the most luscious,
the ones that would astonish the folks in Henderson County, duty
bound to extol the pickings, “You’ve outdone yourself, Donald
Marshall”, his blush only just discernible amidst so much red,
dripping flesh. “I helped him, I said. “I picked this one,” pointing
to a giant half my size.
The melons passed muster; the melons were superb, though
perhaps not quite as good as the ones Farmer Alexander brought
in ’28… and then a collective sigh, for Farmer Alexander’s nose and
just how he knocked on the melon’s carcass and reacted just so to
whatever he heard inside. These were skills were rare indeed.
We joshed, we laughed, we bowed extravagant and low to the
ladies, the matriarchs of our lives, and got them an extra plate dripping with bounty, roots deep in the richest soil on Earth. “Yes, I believe you could tempt me, Laddie. I believe you could….” Thus we passed the time leaving the plates dripping with what delighted the wasps and yellow jackets, the ones we had burned out of our house the year before. Kerosene and bravado had done that trick, though the roof did catch for a moment…..
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