Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Dad

It's father's day, and I just wanted to share some memories of life growing up with my dad, Lester McClanahan. He's still with us on planet earth, but I don't get to see him very often.

One memory that occurred to me the other day was Sunday afternoons with dad. We lived out in the country, and didn't have much on the tv, except sports. While our Sundays were often full of football or baseball on tv, much of the time, we relaxed. One favorite of mine was playing the card game War with my dad. As you know, War is one of those games that can be over in a minute or can go on and on for an hour. We sat on the living room floor and played and laughed.

Our Sunday morning routine was to stop on the way to church to pick up the paper. Since we had a 13-mile drive into town, my dad would toss me the comics which I read while we drove to town.

When my family moved from New York City out to South Dakota, my parents decided that is where they would retire. They promptly bought a gorgeous 23-acre ranch and proceeded to spend every Saturday for the next decade preparing it, building a house, and digging a well. My dad had this old jalopy of a Jeep pickup truck. On Saturday's I would sit in the back and we'd drive up to the ranch. At first, we dug post holes for fence. Hard work, so I am pretty sure I helped out for about five minutes then went off to explore the hills. Then we dug the well house. Same story. Then the house. We all put in a ton of hours on that place. As a teen I sort of got tired of spending every Saturday up there. But those are fond memories of bouncing along the dirt roads in the back of the pickup.

During the summer when I was home from school, we would eat lunch together. We would have a bologna sandwich (or maybe fried spam or peanut butter--I know, right?) and listen to Paul Harvey on the radio. Then he would watch a soap opera and take a short nap. Then he'd go back to work. How many kids watched lunchtime soap operas with their dads? Not many, I'm guessing.

Coming from Irish and Scottish stock, my dad had a temper, and it was best to stay on the good side of that. But he also was quick to laugh and paid attention to his children.

I remember routinely getting off the school bus at Wind Cave and going into my dad's office to just say hi. It was really cool that I could do that. Just pop into his office.

When it was time for me to go off to my sophomore year of college, I transferred to Carleton. He drove me out. I don't remember a single thing about the trip except that it was cool having a road trip with just me and my dad.

I am always glad that I had the privilege of having my dad walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. I have known many women whose dad was already gone by that point. I am one of the lucky ones who got the joy of my dad by my side on that special day.

When my first child was born, Dad would hold her in his special grandpa hold and sing "Clementine" to her.

Dad and I have had many differences throughout the years, but he is always my dad. He always is proud of me and will always listen to me. Like many of us do, Dad has mellowed with the years, and nowadays he is more ready to apologize when things get tense. He cries when it is time to say good-bye because no one knows if it will be our last good-bye or not. He gives big bear hugs. I know my dad would have done anything for us, because he did. He worked hard and he took his role as dad seriously. Lots of fathers were not very present, but he was.

I love my dad. And I wish you the most awesome father's day today.