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Archive for January 3rd, 2010

Happy Daddy Day!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

My brother called me this morning to wish me a happy “Daddy Day.” What a cool guy my brother is. Cool for a million reasons, but the best one is how lovely he is to get along with, how highly we regard one another.

January 3 was my father’s birthday. He died at age 40, in 1973, but he is still very much in my life. I have his spunk, which he got from Gramma Ruthie (who I talked about here, a few posts back).

Daddy taught me to sing harmony. My life changed that day.

He had been a navigator in the Air Force during the Korean conflict. They grounded his type of plane, and while he was retraining in a different type of plane, the conflict ended.

Dad learned about stars/constellations in part during those Air Force years. I remember that sometimes we would take a blanket out on the front yard (in an area where there were no street lights) and we would lie down and look up, and Daddy would teach us what he could. I remember learning about Orion and the “Seven Sisters” but I retained more about the stories than the shapes in the sky.

But really? I retained a memory that my dad spent time with me to teach what he loved. That is a memory of love and affection.

Daddy was really, really smart. He was also very emotional, at a time when it was not at all vogue for a man to be mushy. He loved us and we knew it. This from a man who grew up in a Norwegian community, where you show love mostly by doing loving acts, than saying it or hugging. I have photos of him with his arm around one or the other of us. We knew.

You know, when someone dies unexpectedly, there is always a chance of regret. Wishing you had said or done something, or not said/done something, is a real issue when there are no more days to connect.

When Daddy died, I knew he loved me and I knew he was clear I loved him. At age 14, there were other things to deal with, but the regret thing escaped me and I am grateful.

I Look Just Like: Mom AND Dad

I am finding it fascinating, that when I visit my Daddy’s family, they are sure I look like him. When I see Mom’s side, they say I look like her. Actually, I look a lot like my Mom’s sister, Ruth, and Mom often accidentally will call me Ruth because of it. Still. Always. I don’t mind.

But when I look at the photos above, I see my ears, eyes, eyebrows… look incredibly like my dad. He was young here, I was in 3rd grade, maybe 4th.


Then I found this above photo in our family treasures. It was taken in January 1973, and Dad died in June ’73. In this photo, I see how my mouth and jaw, and frame, look like my mom.

eudora2007basketsmHere is a photo of me posing as Eudora, my dance alter-ego. Maybe you can see that jawline and chin that Mom and I (and some other women in her family) share?

(For the record, do you notice in the photo above my parents are wearing pale turquoise? Mom likes the lighter shades we might call Robin’s Egg or Aqua, as well as the bright turquoises I adore. )

The Right Legacy

Daddy was nice to everyone. He was a professor, and thus could call himself “Dr. Troldahl.” He only used it very occasionally when making important phone calls. Status was not important to him, kindness was. He knew he was equal to everyone, and acted on that knowledge.

Daddy thanked those who repaired his car, his refrigerator. He thanked the custodian and was a favorite of the secretarial pool (he knew how to type so he only asked them to work for him when he was in a pickle, and appreciated what the job took to get it done).

He talked to everyone he met. He chatted with those in line at the grocery. Me, too.

Mom did things alone, things without dad, both before and after he died. She could change a tire.

I remember she took us on a trip to visit her sister and our cousins, at a time when Dad stayed home for whatever reason (this was reprehenible to some in our community, to go without her husband, but I am very glad she did it). It was Easter weekend. She spun out on the highway, shoveled us out, and drove away without looking disturbed.

Mom was a strong woman. She had a car when none of the other mommies had one (it was a used gold Corvair, which we called the Putt Putt).

Mom taught, before she married Dad. She had her own income. She went back to teaching when I was in 4th grade.

When Daddy died, we kept our house and our friends and our school. A lot of kids are not that lucky. Mom was determined to keep things as much on an even keel.

I’m proud to look like/ be like them both. I’m proud to be tough in ways they taught me (by example) to be tough.

And I’m glad Dad (first) and Mom (later) learned to hug. Things could be unsteady in that house at times, but the love was a given.

Happy Daddy Day!