Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Little Fish

My dad used to call me Little Fish when I was a baby, swimming around in my mom's tummy, and when I was a little girl, swimming around in the ocean or a lake or a pool or anywhere because I just loved to swim. He used to say "Little Fish, Little Fish, fly away home!" I didn't know until MUCH later that the actual nursery rhyme is about a ladybug and woah, is it creepy.

My dad. He has always worked long hours, weekends, and holidays. Sometimes that meant celebrating Thanksgiving early or Christmas late and it often meant waiting to eat dinner until around 9 or 9:30 so that he could be there. Even after working 12-hour days my dad was never too tired to spend time with me or play with me or help me with my homework. On the weekends he would take me swimming or on bike rides or we would work in the garden.
"Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow. Gonna plant these seeds, I know," he would sing.

My brother-in-law once told me that one of the reasons he first started liking my sister so much was because of how much she loved her dad. "Most people grow up and stop thinking of their dad as a hero," he said," but it seems like you guys still think your dad is the best guy in the world." He's right. We do. When I was just about thirteen years old my dad had a heart attack and was very sick, so we all know how lucky we are to have him around.

My dad. He writes poetry. He does magic for my nieces and nephews. He surfs every weekend and does triathlons with two of his friends (he's the swimmer). He plays the piano and the guitar and the banjo and the harmonica. He makes up words and often unconsciously makes sound effects for things he does (like if he's pouring something he'll say "glub glub glub"). He calls pancakes flapjacks and an umbrella a bumbershoot. Once, when I lived in LA and had to drive back down there after Christmas, my dad went with me at the last minute. He had to work the next day so I drove him straight to LAX where he caught a flight back home. He had wanted to go with me so I didn't have to drive by myself. When I was in high school he used to drive two hours to come watch my diving meets or my field hockey games (my school and his work were both an hour from our house, in the opposite direction of each other). He taught me to read when I was three by writing and illustrating a story about a dog. He taught me to make a long blade of grass into a lizard-catcher. He taught me to surf and to duck dive. He taught me to change a tire and to drive a stick shift car (although I'm still learning that one). Whenever he calls me on his cell phone he says "Hey Jules! I'm talkin' to ya cordless!"

I think my dad can be difficult to shop for. My mom is easy-- she likes flowers, knick knacks, aprons, scarves, bubble bath, etc. But my dad? He never wants anything. My sister usually buys him clothes, but I think clothes are hard to buy clothes for someone else. I could get him a tie since he wears one to work every day but he already has a lot of ties. Socks? Got him those for Christmas. A book? He has a million books.

So for my dad's birthday this year I decided to paint him a picture. I'm not much of an artist but I'm happy with how it came out. The canvas is small, only 5 x 7 inches.
I call it "Little Fish."