Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Rocket Scientist Road Kill Collecting Father

I have been told that I spent the first few years of my life blocking the front door, waiting for my Dad to return and swing me onto his lap.  I didn't care if he was the Colonel of Crazy... I liked him and his hug could fix anything bad that happened during the day.
I can’t remember an exact moment when I realized that I didn’t have a normal father.  In hindsight, I suspect that even the casual observer might immediately conclude that the man driving around town with 10 kids couldn’t possibly be considered in the “normal range.” His calm and collected response to the many obnoxious and venomous inquiries as to the ownership of these 10 chil{under their breath, brats}dren was,....”Well, I suppose they are all mine, " as if he was referring to coins that fell out of the hole in his pocket.  
I don’t think I paired my Dad and crazy together  (and I mean crazy in the most endearing manner) until later, when I began to have conversations with my friends.  Conversations that went something like this: 
Friend:  “My dad goes golfing every Saturday.”
Friend #2:  “My dad loves football and listening to Hall and Oates.”
Friend #3: “ My dad likes to waterski and makes model airplanes.”
Me:  “My dad likes to find dead animals in the road, take their guts out, stuff them, and then reanimate them in live positions..”  
No man in his right mind would pull over on a road trip with a clump of stinky, fighting, yelling, kids.....not to kick them all out, intermingled limbs and all, .but to lovingly wrap a dead, decaying animal in old newspaper and then nestle the corpse to posthumously particpate in the remainder of his vacation.  More than once,  I opened the freezer and retrieved a hopeful cache of....’oh please let it be popsicles......oh, what the?......its a possum?!!!” 

My Dad’s kind of loony provided and still provides hours of entertainment....leaving raccoons with barred teeth at the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors, bringing SNIPES to life at girls camp, and hopefully many more stories for generations to come.  
     More importantly, it  taught us the beauty and reverance of life.  Most people would pass a lifeless lump of fur at the side of the road with a sigh of disgusted sadness.  My father saw it as something beautiful.  He saw art in life and in death.
I also figured out that my Dad wasn’t normal when I would tell people that he was a Rocket Scientist and they would laugh.  “No, really, what does your Dad do?”  
The reality is that I could never really explain what my dad did while he was at work.   I still haven’t found any support groups for mediocre humans with rocket scientist parentage and can only guess that this may be a common problem for relatives of rocket scientists or brain surgeons.  One of my few strokes of brilliant afterthoughts, instead of all those many speechless responses to my father's profession,  I should have simply started speaking in a non-existent foreign language, putting an end to all questioning or disbelief.  This is how I replay it all in my mind: 
Doubtful Person:  “So what does your Dad do?”
ME:  “He is a Rocket Scientist.”
Doubtful Person:  “Ha! Ha! Very funny.  And my Dad has been to the moon.  What does he really do? “
ME:  “I am not kidding.  He calibrates the exact angle and position at which molecular particles collide with each other at the speed of epilight.    Using laymans terms....the positron uniquark response of these particles are the building blocks of all of our space endeavors.”  
Doubful No longer:  “Wow!  I am speechless!”  

It would have been easier  if he would have worn a t-shirt like this:  

     As a rocket scientist, My Dad is in an entirely different arena than most of humankind. His brain is so completely packed with information, logarithms and circuit intricacies that one would think that there could possibly be no room for emotional support.  And having eight daughters, there was rarely an occasion lacking in some emotional display of one sort or another. Tears were immediately dismissed as silly and a waste of time. There was an era in my life when I thought my father incapable of compassion.  I now see my father someone who doesn’t necessarily speak the language of tears and whining, but one who serves immensely in his own capacity.   He speaks the language of machines and there is literally no electronic device, computer, or vehicle with which he is not intimately familiar.  He just knows what makes things tick....or not tick. Our house is full of neighbors televisions and computers that my father has volunteered to repair.  If any of us has a problem with our car, we know that our father will happily spend his entire weekend under the hood figuring out what needs to be done and then doing it.  This is his language of service.  He is an extremely compassionate person.  
It is his way of saying, “You are broken.  Let me fix you in a way that I can.  You are beautiful in all of your brokenness.”  

He's just crazy like that.  

I love you, Dad.


Joal said...

FYI, your dad read this while he was here, and chuckled and seemed to enjoy the post. He said you had emailed him a link earlier, but the link didn't work, so he couldn't get to it before.

Amy said...

Where are you??? It's been so long since you have posted. Is everything okay? I miss reading you.