My Dad Had No Rhythm, Yet He Will Always Be Master Of The Dance

 

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.

God called him home after 90 years plus 2 weeks on this earth.  I figure St. Peter had a mosquito problem in heaven, so now Dad is leaping and pirouetting from cloud to cloud, still wearing that beloved smile.

He was the finest man I’ve ever known.

Dr. G.W. “Bill” Richart

9/15/27-9/30/17

 

Rest in peace, Daddy.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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48 Responses to My Dad Had No Rhythm, Yet He Will Always Be Master Of The Dance

  1. Roy says:

    That’s a lovely tribute to your dad! He was a very special man.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margy says:

    A mosquito problem in heaven – what a delightful sentiment!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Judy Budy says:

    Thanks for posting Peg. A lovely tribute to a lovely man. I miss him so.

    Like

  4. M.Winter says:

    Well maybe that’s another reason why they called your Dad. They needed someone with “celestial” navigation skills. You know, direct lost souls back to the Pearly Gates.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. k8edid says:

    I was sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. As one who never knew my Dad growing up, and now that my Dad has Alzheimer’s it is too late – I wish I could have had the blessing of a father like yours. My condolences to you and your family. He will be missed.

    Like

  6. Elyse says:

    Dads have a special place in, and hold on our hearts. I’m glad you wrote this before he passed, and I hope you shared it with him. Soon, I hope, you will be able to think of him with more smiles than tears.

    As I always do, I will leave you with a song that has brought me much comfort:

    Big hugs, Peg. ❤️😔

    Like

  7. What a lovely tribute to your dad. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Like

  8. Kooky Chic says:

    That was simply beautiful. How very sad for you all but what treasured memories you have.

    Like

  9. Robert Rhodes says:

    Yes he was awesome. Better than any god father I could have wished for.

    Like

  10. What a gorgeous tribute. I simply love your writing Peg.

    Like

  11. All good wishes to you. That was a nice piece of writing. The thing that makes me the happiest about this post is the fact that you appreciate him. You don’t take any of it for granted. Make sure your siblings feel the same way.

    Nine. That is so old school. They don’t do it that way anymore. It’s too difficult.

    Mackinac Island. There’s a Coast Guard station out there. I remember from my previous life.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I can’t imagine having nine – two was tough enough. Definitely old school.

      Thanks for the kind thoughts. We do all appreciate the gift of good parents who live long, relatively healthy lives and are able to stay independent to the end. I know very few people who can say that.

      Haven’t been to Mackinac in 30 years so it’s definitely time for a visit. I used to love it there as a kid.

      Like

  12. I lost my Dad a few months ago. Thank you for sharing your sweet, funny memories of your remarkable father. Remember the joy!

    Like

  13. That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing this extraordinary man with us… I’m sorry for your loss but happy that he was such an awesome dad!! God bless you and comfort your heart.

    Like

  14. Linda says:

    Your dad sounded like a wonderful man. May your good memories help you through the sadness of losing him.

    Like

  15. phraseathot says:

    You were blessed to have a Dad like him. You reminded me to dig a little deeper to mine more gems from my dear Dad while he can still share some of his long ago stories.

    Like

  16. Much love and prayers to you and your family, Peg. You know my number, call anytime.

    Like

  17. My elderly dad has been on my heart and mind as he lives out his twilight years. Inspiring post that has got me thinking…thank you for sharing a bit of his life (and yours) with us.

    Like

  18. So sorry for your loss, Peg. It is so hard to losing a beloved Dad. Love the post and sending you comfort during this time of loss and grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. bone&silver says:

    Oh dear, always sorrows me to hear of a lost loved one… and yet they truly just live on inside us: in our sense of humour, or our cooking skills; our love of travel, or perhaps the Mosquito dance. My condolences, and from someone who lost her beloved Dad nine years ago in a couple of weeks, let me tell you that the first year is by far the hardest. Keep gathering the family, and keep celebrating his life. Blessings from Australia, gabrielle

    Like

  20. Stephen F. Condren says:

    What a wonderful man, treasure the memories.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You’re so right. When I first wrote this piece and it was Freshly Pressed (back in the day:)) many readers wrote to say that they had lousy dads and could only wish they had a good man to look up to. It really made me think about how blessed we were.

      Like

  21. Bill the Praise and Worship Guy says:

    Peg, you forgot the “bat” adventures. Our old house had some kind of space where bats would get in. One time, I was “apprenticing” with dad as we tried to get a bat that had gotten into the back bed room (Libbys large room). The bat was hiding in the bookcase. We could see it, but couldn’t get it to fly out of there. Dad had a mosquito “gun”, like a zip gun with a plastic circle at the end of a dart. He shot at the bat, direct hit! The bat staggered out from the bookcase and dove straight for us, causing Dad and I to dive to the deck, laughing although scared (I was). We eventually got the bat with the weapon of choice, always a tennis racket. When I was old enough, Mom would let Dad sleep and I would be awakened — more often than you probably knew– to take care of the offending critter. Great memory — Dad could even bring joy to chasing down a bat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      I never heard that story, Bill. What a great one! I remember you and I cornering one in the blue bathroom, both armed with our racquets. You stunned the thing with a truly elegant overhead smash. Then we sandwiched it between the racquets and let it go out that balcony.

      Like

  22. Hey there! I stumbled on your post. Not sure how, though. And I loved the post. Reading it made me feel warm, yet I felt slightly envious. My dad and I never got into the habit of becoming close. Over the years, I just lost the ability to speak with him on any issue any longer. Not sure why, you know? We just drifted apart.

    Or rather, I drifted away from him, despite his attempts to connect.

    I hear others (not you) telling me that if I cared enough, then I would be able to do it. Others might say that if I was appreciative enough, that I would bother. But for me, the more i appreciate how much he does for me, the more guilty i feel. And it just pushes me away from deep and sincere conversation.

    I tell others that i would be glad if i was half the man he was. But you would never catch me say that in front of him. Not because I do not appreciate his love or his efforts, but precisely because I am too ashamed of myself to say it. Ironic, isn’t it?

    Condolences on your dad. He really sounded like a wonderful father and man. I mean it.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thank you. I’m sorry you haven’t been able to connect with your dad. The parent/child relationship can be very complicated, can’t it? Don’t be afraid to reach out to him, even after a long time. I bet his response would be welcoming and loving because that’s a parent’s instinctive reaction to their child.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I love your dad. He and mine probably would have gotten along well even though yours was a sailor and mine a farmer at heart.
    It’s hard losing a dad. Just so hard. But he left so much with you.
    (And celestial navigation does glaze me over too. You’re either a boat person or not – understanding all the sanding and varnishing is pat of the criteria I think)
    Hugs

    Like

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