My Dad Has No Rhythm, Yet He Is Still Master Of The Dance

This post was my Father’s Day gift to my Dad two years ago.  It had the honor of being Freshly Pressed and remains one of my (and my readers’) favorites.

I love you, Dad!

My Dad is the one in the snappy, plaid jacket.

My Dad sired 9 children. He then topped that accomplishment by staying around, with our Mom, to raise every one of us. For that reason alone, he deserves to be Father of The Year.

Not convinced? Here are a few things you should know about him.

My Dad…

can clear a room quicker than you can say National Geographic. Not because of poor hygiene or a less-than-winning personality, but because of his TV viewing habits.

All us kids would be piled into our tiny sunroom watching The Monkees or Get Smart on TV. Dad would come in, squat next to the set and start flipping the dial. (This was in the dark days before remotes.) He would come upon a fascinating National Geographic special on plate tectonics and there he would stay. We all groaned, rolled our eyes, exclaimed “Da-a-ad!” and left the room. If we were old enough to do so, we flounced out.

As he squatted next to the set, chewing his nails and staring raptly at the educational program du jour, we would hear his voice faintly, fading as we scattered through our big, old house “Hey, don’t you want to watch this? This is really interesting!”

should have joined the Navy. He bought his first boat when we were young kids. This started a life-long love affair second only to the one he shares with my Mom. I loved the family trips, especially to Mackinac Island each summer.

Each new boat was bigger than the last, and all the early ones were wood. When I think of how much of my life was spent in the boat shed, stripping varnish off metal trim and sticking Coopernal-ed toothpicks into screw holes, all I can say is… Dad, I forgive you.

is one of the smartest people I know. Too smart. He was always ready to help with math homework, but his explanation would sail right over your head. After just a few minutes, your eyes would glaze over. We’d say, “Thanks, Dad, I get it now.” and he would walk away, mission accomplished. He never suspected we would call a friend for help as soon as he left the room.

He has taught celestial navigation for years, a skill I greatly admire even though the topic makes me glaze over worse than math.

has no rhythm that I’ve noticed, but is the Master of the Dance. He is best known for The Mosquito Ballet.

On sultry summer nights when we were very little, the windows and the balcony door in our bedroom would be opened to catch any stray breezes. Somehow the mosquitoes always got in to plague us. Dad to the rescue. Wearing a sappy expression and brandishing a fly swatter, he would leap and pirouette about the room, chasing the pesky bugs. We stood in our cribs and beds, flushed and sweating in diapers and t-shirts, shrieking with laughter, the sound floating out into the hot, still nights.

is a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Not because of his patriotism, though he is a proud and loyal American, but because of his zeal for the 4th of July.

My Dad loves fireworks with the pure joy of a child.

As my brothers got older they bought fireworks, most from the lawless land of Indiana, to set off in the driveway. Dad half-heartedly endorsed Mom’s edict to stop because those things “were just too dangerous”, but you could tell only the strictest discipline kept him from elbowing the boys aside to light the fuses himself.

To this day, almost every 4th of July, Dad and some of the family take the boat down the river to watch the fireworks over the water. That’s the only way to see them.

tells a shaggy dog story with the best of them. There’s a real art to telling the long, involved joke known as the shaggy dog. Dad has great delivery, no doubt. The problem is remembering the whole story. Early on, he developed a system. He wrote down his best material and kept the notes tucked in the front pocket of his shirt.

Our parents used to host cocktail and dinner parties pretty often when we were kids. Dad would duck into a corner, surreptitiously refer to his notes, and then sally forth to slay the crowd with his latest gems.

All his shirts still have pockets, and they still bulge with papers. I know for a fact most of those papers are jokes, now sent by friends via that new, joke-passing technology, email.

is a devout man. He spent years in the seminary before deciding the priesthood was not for him. But his faith and devotion to God have been constants in his life; something he and Mom passed on to their children.

When we were kids, we said family prayers almost every night. As I entered my teens, I must admit that I didn’t have quite the appreciation for this ritual that I have now, in retrospect.

Sometimes, in the middle of our devotions, one of my brothers would let one fly: pass gas, fart, release the Silent-But-Deadly hounds of hell. Of course we all started giggling, then looked guiltily to our parents. They tried to maintain the mood. But more often than not, Dad would lose it. He’d start laughing. It was that highly contagious laughter that you couldn’t resist. We all joined in, laughing until we were leaning on the couch, crying. When it was obvious this train was not going to get back on the holy track, he’d waive us weakly from the room.

Prayers called on account of laughter. I think God understood.

At 83, his ballet jumps aren’t what they once were. The boat will probably be sold this year. But Dad still teaches others how to navigate by the stars. He worked hard every day of his life to provide for us. He still tells a great shaggy dog story, and loves and supports God, my Mom and the rest of his family. For these reasons and more, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Father of the Year Award should go to – my Dad.

What’s that you say? My Dad sounds great, but you’d like to nominate someone else – maybe your dad? Fair enough.

If you’re blessed to still be able to do so, join me in telling each of our nominees for Father of the Year:

Thanks Dad.

I love you.

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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60 Responses to My Dad Has No Rhythm, Yet He Is Still Master Of The Dance

  1. One of my faves, too, Pego. What a mighty good man!


    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks Darla! People may be getting tired of this post, but I don’t think I can do anything better.

      He IS a good man, and still chugging along. He FINALLY got an offer on the boat after 3 years, so I may have to rewrite this for next year. 😉


  2. mistyslaws says:

    Missed this one the first time. So glad you decided to rerun it. It is indeed one of your best and truly FP worthy. Maybe even Freshly PEGGED worthy.

    I think your dad takes it. I mean, my dad is swell and all, but NINE kids? Mine only had to deal with 2. You win.


  3. Margie says:

    I think your dad should get Father of the Year too! Any man who can handle nine kids AND a boat is a very special kind of person.


  4. Peg, this is a wonderful tribute to your Dad. I’ve pretty much run out of Dads so I will be happy to vote for your Dad as the Father of the Year. I love this guy! You are a very lucky daughter.


  5. What a great post for a great Dad from a great lady!


  6. It’s a shame everyone can take celestial navigation if only for the chance to go out and be under the stars. (we will not discuss the math…my eyes are crossing and brain hurts with the memory)
    Varnish?….(running far far away..but that too has lessons)
    You dad sound terrific – the fly swatter ballets must be taught somewhere?)
    Hug the holiday – and the reason
    great post


  7. rachelocal says:

    Loved this, Peg! My dad is a pastor, so we would have family prayers as well. And more times than not – prayers ended in fits of laughter due to a poorly timed bodily sound. hahaha.


  8. Elyse says:

    Thanks for giving us this post again, Peg. Beautiful. Especially this: Prayers called on account of laughter.


  9. I love this post, Peggy. Also, I’d like to remind you that this means your parents “did it” at least 9 times. Probably on purpose. And his swimmers could swim. Happy Father’s Day. 🙂


  10. JM Randolph says:

    Oh, Peg I didn’t see this first time around! I got all weepy sitting here on my porch. Your Dad sounds like a great man. Excellent post!


  11. If everyone had a Dad like this, there would be fewer messed up people in the world. This was a great tribute to your Dad and I especially liked the prayer story.


    • pegoleg says:

      My Mom was a little miffed by that part. But the worst was she said “your father is a WONDERFUL dancer”. I think she missed the main point, here.


  12. He sounds like the kind of dad I should have had. Now I see where you get your delightful sense of humor from. I don’t know where my wacky humor hales from–a genetic mutation perhaps? 😉


  13. I remember this one! Good read then, good read now 🙂


  14. PinotNinja says:

    What a perfect gift to give to your father, your brothers and sisters, and all of us. Of course such a wonderful person has such an amazing dad.


  15. Everyone deserves to have a Dad like yours, he sounds like a wonderful and funny man.


  16. This one is new to me, Peg, so I’m really glad you reposted. I love that your dad keeps paper in his shirt pocket with jokes and stories on them. If you don’t mind, I’m just going to have to work that detail into a future novel. 😉 It’s too good!


  17. Al says:

    Any man who loves NG specials gets my vote!


  18. Ah sounds like a great guy! I just lost my Dad in October after 89 great years. He and my Mom had 6 kids, your typical Irish Catholic Family. Dryest sense of humor you ever heard, he had to hold up a flag so we would know he was being sarcastic. lol


  19. Tar-Buns says:

    Always worth reading again, Peg! Excellent tribute to Dad! We’re going for breakfast with the little Rockports tomorrow morning, then back to Shepherd to visit with Pat’s Dad in the afternoon. Happy Dad’s day to all the Dads in my family!


    • pegoleg says:

      Give my love to the ‘rents. Wish we lived closer to all of you. (by the way, looking at your little bowl-cut head always makes me smile.)


      • Tar-Buns says:

        Yeah, most iconic family picture but lousy bowl haircut me.
        Wish you lived closer, too! How many times do we think and say that?
        Yet, I truly do wish we were neighbors. All the fun things we could do …


  20. I am so glad you reran this Peg, your Dad is certain up there with the very best of them. He sounds like one to emulate. He and my Dad would have got on swimingly, mine built a 27′ sailboat in the garage and raced it in the Puget Sound and other bodies of water for years.

    Called for laughter? Yes, this makes perfect sense.


  21. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad! How wonderful that he is still living and continues to be such a key figure in your life. There’s nothing better than watching your parents lose it in a laughing fit when they are supposed to stay in control – but can’t hold it in. My dad used to make us laugh while at church, he was the instigator! 🙂


  22. notquiteold says:

    What a sweet tribute? And which one of the little buggers are you?


  23. Mary K. says:

    Wonderful piece on Dad. I actually printed this one the first time.We are busy cleaning the deck and I’m taking alittle breather-our deck is too big! Happy Fathers Day to our great Dads.


  24. I think I remember this one, Peg…
    which is really saying something, because…
    What was I?


  25. Pingback: Freshly Pegged! | The Middlest Sister

  26. Lovely beyond lovely. Your dad sounds like the kind of dad I always wished I had. Really wonderful post. BTW: Only went to Mackinaw as an adult, but LOVE it there! So beautiful and special.


  27. Isn’t it funny what stands out in our memory of someone?At the time, I’m sure you dad had no idea that the way he swatted away mosquitos would be so memorbale for you and so quintessentially ‘Dad.’ I’m sure he enjoyed reading this post!


  28. pattisj says:

    Great post, Peg.


    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks, Patti. I saw my parents just last weekend. They’re 85 and 82 and in failing health but still living on their own. I know I’m very blessed to still have both of them around.


      • pattisj says:

        That says a lot for them, living on their own. My in-laws went into a nursing home this year. FIL, 91, fell a couple times in Dec, and MIL couldn’t get by without his help at home. Tough business to handle 400+ miles away, but they are doing well.


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