I remember listening to my Dad sing Bing Crosby’s “Don’t Fence Me In.” I loved it when he would sing Classic Country or Jimmy Buffet. You wouldn’t know it from all the screaming my brother and I would do to get him to stop it. He has a knack for things. He taught me how to draw a horse and a hippo. Maybe other things, but I remember the horse the most. He could play a song on the guitar just from listening to it a few times- simple, nothing fancy. He knew the bare minimum that was needed without formal training.
He is a hands on kind-of man. When my mum’s birthday was coming around, Dad took me down to the barn to build her a lounge chair out of wood so she could sit in the sun and get her pale skin some burning. She was surprised because she never goes to the barn so she had no idea.
I was really scared about moving to California. It was the first time I wouldn’t live with my parents or one of my parents. It was scary because I hadn’t actually envisioned it happening. I would be so much closer to my goal but still with a long way to go. Before leaving, he told me how he had thought about being a filmmaker when he was in high school. Him and his friends would make small films. He didn’t follow that path. I think it was because not all films require horses. (In my opinion, its not a real film without a horse: Lord of the Rings vs Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.) Or maybe it was because it seemed unrealistic for a farm boy? I knew I had to brave.
This conversation stuck with me and among many other conversations and moments in my life is fueling my incredibly outlandish and sometimes annoying passion.
He is now retired and writing his very own screenplay- which I’m really excited about. He loves history, science, intelligent things, horses, and reading encyclopedias (weird, I know), but I really believe he has the makings of a perfect historical conspiracy screenwriter! And of course, the best mode of transportation was Horses back then. Boom! Perfect!
To celebrate his new found freedom from “The Man”, I have time traveled through my head space to find my favorite memories of my Dad.
- When I was in Kindergarten, I had my tonsils taken out. My parents kept me out of school for a couple of days. One night I could not sleep for the life of me. My Dad stayed up with me and we ate chicken noodle soup watching cartoons. I remember being in the den looking out the sliding glass window (the one my brother fell out of once) and seeing the pasture almost blue against the night sky with the moon peaking through the trees. T’was pretty.
- I didn’t often get to see my Dad since he worked evening and late nights, but once in awhile when I would get sick, we would hang out. I remember having a picnic on the floor while we watched my favorite movie at the time, “Grease”. The scene came up where they were talking about a “virgin pin” and I asked my Dad what it was. He got awkward. Which made me awkward and kind of even sicker. He either said “Don’t worry about it” or “A safety pin”. I only remember the awkwardness. It’s pretty funny now, right? Dad?
- The time he saved us from the possum. I can only imagine him telling his boss he had to leave work to save his family from a possum! It crawled in through the window and it was scary!
- Of the many cartoons I used to watch, Charlie Brown was in the top 5. When I was watching an episode, my Dad ran into the room thinking I was playing the piano so very well, but really, it was child prodigy Shroeder. He was so excited and in disbelief! It made me super sad that I wasn’t playing the piano at that moment up to that par. But I loved that he believed I could.
- When I meowed like a cat and he thought the cat had gotten stuck in the ventilation again. He was impressed when he found out it was me.
- When he let me and my friend scream/sing The Lion King soundtrack in the backseat of his white convertible on repeat.
- When he didn’t yell at me for crawling under the house playing make believe with my invisible and actual real pets.
- When I was only 14 but he would teach me how to drive on the curvy gravel roads past our house. Those were some high drop offs! Even driving them in my 20s is scary! Plus gravel is so not firm…
- For swerving over the entire road when no one was coming from the other side. It was fun and exhilirating and oh-so illegal!
- When he brought cupcakes to school for Halloween and the kids got to see a portion of his ear missing. For some reason, it was really cool! Probably the only cool thing that came from having cancer removed from an ear…
- When he bought me my first guitar for Christmas!
- In first grade, our class was incubating chicken eggs. We had a fire drill and he checked on them! (He was a part of the fire brigade people at the time.)
- His mustache was like a caterpillar and it made me feel sick thinking a caterpillar was on his face.
- When he would bail hay and then he would build me a hay fortress in the barn. Those were the coolest imagination spaces ever! Also, the first time I got to touch the rafters of the barn when playing on the stacks. I was always sad when one by one, the horses would eat it away.
- The time his manly place of work put together a cookbook and he named his recipe, Cassie’s Salmon Cakes. I had never eaten them so I thought it was stupid to put my name on it. Then he made me some and they were amazing. They are also the only reason I feel remorse for being a vegetarian.
- The Christmas he bought me a Violin. I played it maybe a couple of times… and then we had to pawn it because we hit hard financial times. I think I would like to learn the Violin now, but at that time, much like all the dance and gym classes I was in, I just wasn’t interested. So that worked out! (This is a favorite because he knew I could do it even if I wasn’t.)
- When I wrote a short film in one hour and we shot it the next morning in the fresh snow in the woods. He played Ernest Hemingway and wore shorts and a breezy island shirt IN THE SNOW for me! The story was of a journalism student walking through the woods to get to her college classes and came upon Ernest who told her what writing is really about. I was pretty proud of this because everything Ernest says is something he actually said sometime during his life! We shot it, but I have no idea where it is… SIGH! On a tape somewhere in my Dad’s house… Find this for me, okay??
- When I was at the Doctor’s office with my Mom and someone came up to us and asked if my Dad had a mustache. We said yes, and she then told us that my Dad saved her life! A picture of my Dad as a superhero instantly popped into my brain and I thought, “Nah, couldn’t be my Dad.” Then she said, “Yes! Your Dad!” Then I revised the picture in my brain to be him as a bit tipsy of a Superhero and smoking. He totally saved a woman’s life and could smell trouble! He beat up like 5 men, one with a coffee pot because they were harassing her trying to take money from her register! Too cool! And then she told us to THANK HIM for her! Sigh… my Dad is really awesome. Tipsy or not.
- All of our conversations about the Illuminati that I didn’t understand but appreciated.
- When you let me drive the golf cart in our pastures!
- I loved when you would wear cowboy boots with your trench coat and cowboy hat. You were quite the unique individual in a countryside that was trying to become urban 2 years after a fad had hit an actual city to start trickling our way. You didn’t care. You wore what you liked!
- When he would take my brother and I fishing in not our fish pond in not our acreage. I liked crawling under the wire fence even though it frightened me, too.
- When he would LOVE every coffee cup I gave him EVERY Christmas.
- And, of course, the Thanksgiving he took us to see TOY STORY! I think the fact my Mom let my brother and I pick out a cowboy hat to give him for “Christmas” on Thanksgiving helped. Or maybe it was pre-planned?? I don’t know! Mom and Dad are so sneaky wonderful!!!
So, you can see that growing up, I was so fortunate to have amazing parents that made opportunities for me and stayed supportive. It’s my turn to support them. Emotionally. I really can’t afford it, financially. Though, this evens out since they couldn’t really back then, either. Imperfection is perfect, isn’t it?
So, now, for a very public and icky sweet father daughter moment. (I’m letting you in on it because we’ve grown so close over that past few months.)
“Dad, I hope you get to travel across the United States in a RV or sail the ocean or anything else you have always thought about doing but never did. Including writing that screenplay and those books you think about writing! No one is fencing you in anymore! So don’t fence yourself in.”