Now That Dad Is Gone

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

A Man for Susan (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a cozy mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

Like most little girls in the fifties, I grew up knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that my father was a hallowed being, due privileges of rank and respect far beyond those called for by the women who surrounded him.

An only child, his own father had succumbed to a heart attack when Dad was twelve.  My paternal grandmother and great-aunt, having been born and raised in Victorian England, immediately cast him in the role of man of the house.  My mother told me once that she knew she was in trouble when she found my great-aunt listening at the bottom of a staircase for the sound of my father’s first footstep of the day, because that was when the table would be set for the family’s breakfast.

In point of fact, Dad wasn’t a demanding person, quite the contrary.  He merely stated his preferences, and miraculously, the women who always surrounded him in life – mother, aunt, wife, daughters always made it so.  Hollywood would have cast him as a mild-mannered British vicar.  Tall, lean, with dark hair and eyes, he could be imposing in a suit, but he never used it to his advantage.

Everyone liked him.  He conversed easily with the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.  His shade tree mechanic worshiped him.  The Captain of the boat on which we rode as tourists to Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi said he’d never met anyone more interested in deep sea fishing – this about a man who didn’t even own a rod and reel.

As a young man, golf was his sport and provided income during the lean years of his high school days, when he made good money to help with household expenses caddying for others – the tables turning during his grad school tenure at Ohio State when a teenaged Jack Nicklaus caddied for him one fine day.

He studied hard and was awarded a full scholarship to Wabash College, where he majored in chemistry and earned a Phi Beta Kappa key.  Skipping the master’s program, he went straight to work towards a PhD at Ohio State, where a professor gave him a B+ solely because he didn’t believe anyone should receive straight A’s.

And then he married my mom and fathered four daughters…

I am the oldest of the four, and as far as I know, none of us was ever made to feel “less” because of our sex.  I was taken on my first college tour when I was six, it being assumed that a full education was in my future.  He took on the responsibility for teaching me French every Wednesday evening when I was nine, so that I would be ready to pass the language requirements. Years later, when our roles were almost reversed, he delighted in our watching together Maigret mysteries filmed in this language without using the subtitles, his memory still sharp.

Although not a trained musician himself, Dad loved classical music and bought season tickets each year to the symphony concerts held in our town.  Mother preferred a good theater excursion, so often I accompanied my father, dressed in my Sunday school finest, told as we left the house together each time that he hoped I would remember to act as nice as I looked because everyone could always strive to do better.  To this day, WETA classical radio plays throughout the day in my home, and the arts and music to which he introduced me run through my books, especially those written by me as Charlotte Kent in my Captain’s Point series.

Dad’s scientific papers were presented at international conferences and copies were ordered from behind the Iron Curtain when you could still hear the gates clanging shut.  He produced environmental impact studies for Nuclear Regulatory and testified when permissions to build nuclear power plants were being requested.  He flew in helicopters over the Mojave Desert and went down uranium mine shafts.    He wore a badge each day to the Oak Ridge National Labs that tracked the radiation to which he was being exposed – these badges proving years later that his work had indeed resulted in the cancers that would kill him.

He tutored high school students who didn’t have knowledgeable fathers of their own and welcomed interns each summer to work under him, including a president of Grambling State University, an historically black college, this man being himself a chemist.  When Dad agreed to drive to Louisiana and lecture during the turbulent civil rights era, his cohort and friend locked him in the Student Union building to keep him safe, although my father was never quite sure from whom, everyone having welcomed him warmly.

He was not able to ever successfully tutor me, completely unable to accept that his verbal offspring could not easily understand either chemistry or physics.  Years later, though, retired and sometimes bored, he read and reread Chocolate Can Kill, using his technical writing skills to help me make it the best manuscript it could be.

Woe to those who didn’t obey his rules, for the punishment he meted out was brutal.  “You will sit here until you can act like a lady,” he would say, and there you would sit on the couch next to him, knowing that you had disappointed.

How long would it take for one to be able to act this way?  One never knew as the minutes stretched.  Finally, he would ask, “Do you think that now you can do it?”

Struck mute, I would nod my head in the affirmative, slinking to my room in shame once released, hoping that if I would stay out of sight for a while my misconduct would be forgotten, and miraculously, when I would allow myself back into the world as I knew it, it always had been.

Father’s Day is now for me a little sad.  When you’ve had one of the best, their loss is felt all the more.

Now that Dad is gone, looking back at all the things he accomplished and all that he did, the real wonder to me is that, somehow, he managed to remain throughout the fifty plus years we had together the larger-than-life Daddy I revered so much as a little girl – untarnished and undiminished.

I love you, Dad!

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries)

Also available in print and for NOOK!


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One Response to Now That Dad Is Gone

  1. Bobbie says:

    Good capture.

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