It seems that I have spent my entire life trying to get my Dad’s attention. Here I am even now after he has been gone two years writing about him and hoping some how he knows.
When I was a kid he was always making fun of the way I looked and of course my brothers would always put in their two cents worth. The jokes circulated within our household about my cooking, driving, fashion sense, boyfriends,you name it they had a joke about it. It was fun making them laugh, even if it was at my expense. When Mom would come to my defense, it only made things worse.
The only time my Dad was home was for meals. He worked at least two jobs a day, plus he was a volunteer fireman, ambulance driver, helped out at the funeral home, you get the picture. He was a very driven man, but I wondered at times if he just didn’t want to be home with Mom and us kids.There were no “Big Russ and Me” moments. Not that he did not have an interesting life, he just never talked to us about it.
I remember a couple of vacations we took as a family. One was a total surprise when I was seven years old. We took the Milwaukee Clipper across Lake Michigan from Muskegon, MI to Milwaukee, WI. I remember it like it was yesterday. The movie they showed on board was “The Glenn Miller Story” with Jimmie Stewart and June Allison. I remember my Dad lifting me up so I could look over the side of the ship and look at the water so very far below. It was a car ferry so we drove off the boat and went to visit my Mom’s relatives in Okanamawoc and then drove home through Chicago and back to Delton.
The next big trip was when I was 12 and we went to the northern Michigan wilderness. We stayed in a very rustic cabin that belonged to a friend of my Dad’s. I remember being scared to go to the outhouse at night. It was dark and very scary and everything smelled funny. Right then and there I knew I was not a camper. It was only a few miles from Lake Superior and it was chilly and rainy. My brothers and I ran ourselves silly going up and down the many steps to Pike lake. No one else was on the lake so we had it all to ourselves. We continued on to Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinaw Island and Mackinaw City. We saw both historical forts and ate a lot of fudge. It was a good time.
But those trips were few and far between. It was like pulling teeth getting Dad to take us on vacation. He couldn’t make money if he wasn’t working and that seemed to irritate him.
Looking back I don’t know why vacations were so important to me. I hated my Dad’s driving. He drove like a maniac. Lead foot Lynn, is what we used to call him. More than once I would look out the back window and see the State Police Officer motioning for us to pull over. How embarrassing. For a lot of my youth I would dread getting in the car with my Dad.