My sister and I both changed our Facebook photos today in honor of Father's Day.
Sis chose this photo
and I used this one.
The thing is...
these are NOT photos of our father. This is our grandfather, Calvin Leckrone, Sr.
It's Father's Day - an awkward day ever since I can remember. My father didn't live with us - he lived half a continent away. He spoke English as a second language. I could count the times I visited with my dad on my fingers. My grandmother hated him, my mother's feelings for him were all over the emotional spectrum. But she wanted us to "love" our father and to me it was like loving the planet of Mars - a place I knew existed but had never visited and wasn't even sure I wanted to. It was very odd.
As I grew up and saw my father a couple of other times I didn't see him as a bad man or a villain. He just wasn't a very good family man when it came to having his own family. And then of course there was this - the legacy that keeps on giving. I don't hate him, and I even thought he was charming in some ways. I just don't think of him in terms of "Father."
My father figure was my grandpa. He was the man who let his pregnant daughter move back into his home with her toddler daughter in tow - only a couple of years after the fancy church wedding. I'm sure it broke his heart.
He changed our diapers and played with us. I have a vague memory of running into the living room to to show him that I was wearing "Big girl underpants" and him saying, "You sure are honey." I don't know why I remember it, but I do.
He taught us how to garden, he let us drive the tractor, he let us hit him with water balloons. He went to innumerable dance recitals and band concerts and football games. Thinking back on it all now- the man was a saint.
And all he wanted in exchange was for us to say "Goodie, goodie, goodie" when the Tigers won, and he wanted to share his stories when he was driving and hold our hands when we stopped by to visit. He loved us so much.
I can't be at his graveside today. Sis and I checked it out this spring when we went to his 97-year-old sister's funeral. We did that to represent our branch of the family tree - his branch. We said a prayer, and I swallowed that lump in my throat I always get when I go to that grave side. There's something about being so close to those arms that used to hold me without being able to feel them again that is always hard for me. If I could be there, I would bring flowers, sit for a spell and remember and be thankful.
They say girls will marry a man like their dad. Mr. Pete becomes more and more like my grandpa every year. He's involved in the church, he sings bass, he fixes stuff, he plays with the kids, he helps people out - he's just like my grandpa.
On this Father's Day I'd like to share this final story about my grandpa. Mr. Pete and I moved to Ohio in January of 1983 and we were very busy getting Mr. Pete settled into his new job, me trying to unpack into our apartment by myself for the very first time! and getting my own job. I thought we were so busy, that when my mom's birthday came on February 8, I didn't send a card, or a present or even call. She was 55.
Later that evening after supper, my grandfather called - and he was not happy. He told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to hang up from him and give my mother a call NOW to wish her a happy birthday! and of course I did just as he said. He wasn't angry, but I could hear the disappointment and anxiety in his voice. This was something that was hurting his daughter and he was going to make sure to take care of it. And he did.