Monday, May 08, 2006

In Memoriam...

(Following is the "remembrance" that I shared at Dad's memorial service on April 29 at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Challenge, CA.)

My Dad was a wonderful man.

He was never sorry that his firstborn was ONLY a girl. He treated me as if I were the best thing that could have happened to him.

He took me fishing on the Berkeley Marina and Mom was good enough to actually cook the results!

When he had to pick me up from school to take me for eye doctor appointments or to Children’s Hospital for eye therapy, I’d get to go and visit his shop at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. I still remember the great little robot with the glowing red eyes that the guys there had built.

I still remember him comforting me after a science fair at which I had not succeeded in winning a ribbon.

Mom and Dad were serious about seeing we had a good education. Not only did they pay to allow us all to attend parochial elementary school, but they really came up with the big bucks to send us to parochial high schools. And on top of that, they worked for long hours to fill out the required financial forms every year to see to it that I was able to keep my full scholarship to Holy Names College. Mom recently told me that, compared to those forms, filling out stuff for the IRS was a piece of cake!

He always shared what he knew with us kids or we would learn something together—we tried lost wax casting and copper enameling, etc. etc. etc.

And he was really interested in my education, went the extra yard. My favorite memory of this goes back to Library School at UC Berkeley. I was taking a course in bibliography and I chose to do one of my bibliographies on Ancient Egypt (isn’t THAT ironic, considering what I’m doing now?!). At the time, I believe Louis Alvarez was working at LBL or at Cal. In any case, Dad had some contact with him and mentioned my project. Dr. Alvarez offered to loan me one of the plexiglass models of the Great Pyramid that he was using for the research they were doing to use lasers to investigate for hidden chambers!

We shared a quirky sense of humor. I’m going to miss the regular exchange when he answered the phone, based on a routine by Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In where she played Josephine the telephone operator (one ringy dingy...), always some variation of “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

He was a gentle, unassuming man, but a man with great strength of character. I found this out when he, who had always smoked cigarettes, pipe and the occasional cigar, quit both the cigarettes and cigars “cold turkey” when I was about ten. A while later he also quit the pipe because he thought it might make him take up cigarettes and cigars again. As far as I know he never smoked again.

Peanut brittle—he love peanut brittle and as a joke just after he’d had his teeth taken out we gave him some as a gift. Of course, forever after that it became known as “peanut brutal”.

I think I inherited his love of trains: from riding the live steam trains at Redwood Park and then at Tilden, I graduated to riding the trains of the world. That’s included trains in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and now Egypt. I’ll always choose a train over a plane if at all possible!

And his printing! He was so enchanted by being able to print. When I was in library school he got to know one of my professors who was also a printer. He printed my wedding invitations. He printed for the Sacramento Book Collectors Club. And of course he printed for your museum. I know that he was delighted to be part of living history! And I still remember vividly the perilous relocation of the linotype from the Bay Area to Forbestown!!

There are so many things I remember now that I’m putting this down on paper—going camping and using all his handmade camping equipment and reading Just So stories around the campfire; and his cooking and BBQing and baking...But we would be here forever!

Yes, Dad was a special man, and I know that he is in a special place (perhaps printing God’s weekly newsletter?). I know it’s selfish of me, but I wish he were still here...

1 comment:

  1. Mary, such a beautiful "remembrance" you shared with us...
    After read your lovely post, I'm sure your Dad was a wonderful man.
    And probably this is one of the reasons you are so kind...
    We don't know each other yet, but I think we could be a good friends, even the big distance between us...
    Your sweet words about your parents, your impressions about childhood, about people, about life and career, makes me feel so good, because most of your point of view are mine too...
    I'd like to apologyze for my bad English, and I really hope you understand me... :-)


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