Tag Archives: Father’s Day

Being a father brings lots of lessons

biking, Holmes Co. OH trail

A family bike ride.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Years ago a small army of children caused a raucous in a restaurant. My only son leaned in, and half in jest asked, “Why do couples bother to have kids?”

I saw my chance and took it. “I’ve wondered that a few times myself,” I retorted. A wry smile was the only evidence that my adult son got my point.

My wife and I felt fortunate to raise two beautiful children, a girl, and a boy. Like any other kids, they caused us grief and moments of angst of course. But in the bigger and better picture, they were both great kids. I’ll relinquish bragging rights to simply say I have immensely enjoyed being their father.

As young adults in our late 20s, Neva and I were raw at parenting. We didn’t have the infinite resources parents do today. We did have a strong support team. Besides our parents, siblings and friends who were also raising children helped steer us in the right direction.

be nice to people

Like the sign says.

Our own parents served as our most positive role models. They taught us to be polite, respectful, truthful, and fair. We tried to do the same with Carrie and Nathan. Not that what we did or said was perfect or absolutist in approach. We just believed in letting our children explore the world, allowing them to make mistakes as long as their actions didn’t endanger themselves or others.

We loved and love our daughter and son. We wanted the best for them. But we were realistic, too. Living on teacher salaries, we weren’t rich. But we weren’t poor either. Our wealth came not in dollars and cents or stocks and bonds but in enjoying as many life experiences together as we could. Often that meant relating to other human beings and to nature. We traveled, worked, worshiped, and played together.

We tried to teach our son and daughter the essential elements required for a successful life. We emphasized the formula of our parents. Develop a strong work ethic, be actively engaged in the community, participate in a faith family, and embrace the family circle no matter how crazy. To that end, we stressed being kind, generous, considerate, curious, questioning, creative, helpful, compassionate, mindful, and honest.

That being said, I’m pretty sure my own children have taught me more than I actually taught them, however. As adults, both son and daughter now offer unsolicited advice for personal improvement. I weigh their opinions seriously. Do I have any other choice?

infant, grandfather, grandchild

Holding a grandchild for the first time was just as rewarding as cuddling your own child.

Fatherhood has taught me to be patient with others and myself. It has taught me to laugh at the silliest mistakes and move on. It has taught me to always part with an “I love you.”

Fatherhood has taught me to celebrate both the joys and disappointments that life brings. The good Lord knows there are plenty of both. The pleasures of parenthood go far beyond the first time holding your newborn baby. The sorrows speak for themselves.

I know I wasn’t the perfect father. Neither was my dad or any father for that matter. But mistakes and all, I just tried to do my very best to guide my children from birth into adulthood.

That is the purpose of being a parent. Raise your children to be interdependent adults who productively contribute to society. Isn’t that all a father should really expect as a measure of parental success?

muskie fishing

I never caught a fish this big. My son was one happy camper.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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I am my father’s son

Allegheny Mountains

I still have personal mountains to climb.

By Bruce Stambaugh

My daughter’s words cut right to the truth. In the brief silence that followed, I was once again reminded that I am my father’s son.

The situation embarrassed me. I don’t even remember what caused the unpleasant commotion. I do recall my daughter’s sternness vibrated to my core as soon as she invoked my father’s name.

I bit my tongue, preferring instead to analyze the situation mentally. Dad, God rest his soul, would have persisted in driving home his point.

It’s taken me a long time to confess my similar faults. What’s the line about teaching old dogs new tricks?

Internally confronting the reality of your negative personal behaviors, comments, and intentions isn’t easy. But it’s necessary if I want to be a better husband, father, grandfather, friend, and person. It’s just the way it is.

Being too quick to respond is only one way I am my father’s son. I had a marvelous mentor in Dad offering an opinion whether requested or not.

I’m an expert at translating an interesting short story into a novel with no climax. I might even mention the main point. That never bothered Dad’s storytelling.

photography

Shooting with my lens.

I can’t tell you the number of times my wife has chided me for wiggling my leg while sitting beside her. At church, at home, in a theater, at a concert, I’m used to a nudge, an elbow, or verbal reminder that I’m activating global seismographs with my leggy machinations, just like Dad.

Fortunately, all my fatherly similarities aren’t undesirable. I enjoy meeting new people. They have enriched my life. Dad never met a person he didn’t like until they proved otherwise.

Dad was a man with many interests. He loved hunting, fishing, archeology, family gatherings, dancing, baseball, football, basketball, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was a lifetime community activist.

My likes are just as diverse. A lot overlap with Dad’s, like sports and serving community. However, I shoot wildlife with my camera and frame my trophies rather than eat them.

Ohio's Amish country

Where Dad liked to visit.

Dad liked to travel, too. With a house full of children and all of those outdoor interests, we didn’t often traverse beyond Ohio’s borders. We didn’t have to. The Buckeye state had plenty of day trips to offer families, including visiting Amish country.

I had the good fortune to marry someone who enjoys exploring new places near and far. It’s often fun revisiting the same locations my family did all those years ago.

It’s interesting to hear my two sisters-in-law confiding with my lovely wife about how my two brothers’ idiosyncrasies compare to Dad as well. At least I’m not alone.

super full moon

Dad was over the moon for Mom.

Dad had one admirable quality that glowed like a super full moon. He loved our mother to death. Dad showered Mom with flowers, candy, and cards every birthday, anniversary, and holiday.

He wasn’t exactly jealous. Dad just knew he had a beautiful wife, and wanted to keep that relationship as secure as possible. He thought the solution was to smother Mom, which came across as control.

Given the spunkiness of each of our wives, neither my brothers nor I need worry about that. We appreciate and encourage spousal individuality, and celebrate our special days accordingly. We know we are as fortunate in love as our father was.

I’m thankful for all that my gregarious, energetic, enthusiastic father modeled even if I unconsciously replicate some of those talents that occasionally land me in the proverbial doghouse.

Maybe that’s why we don’t have a dog.

family vacation

Ash Cave, Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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In honor of two very friendly fathers

By Bruce Stambaugh

My late father and late father-in-law were clearly different men. But they had a lot in common, too.

Both my father and my father-in-law, Wayne, were genuinely friendly to everyone they met. They each set an example on how to interact and connect with others.

Stambaughs, Millers

Marian and Dick Stambaugh (L) and Wayne and Esther Miller. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Dad was lanky and gregarious. Though skinny as well, Wayne was of average height. Dad was a Type A talker. Wayne was more laid back, but could easily carry his own in any conversation.

That was especially true when it came to sports. Both men were like little kids if baseball, football or basketball were the topics of conversation. They had a love-hate relationship with all teams Cleveland.

They didn’t just talk athletics either. Dad played three sports in high school and perused his enthusiasm for games well into adulthood. Wayne bowled and played church league softball.

Both found those activities as a means to an end. They got to play, and they thrived on the conversational interplay before, during and after the games.

Of all their commonalities, friendliness was at the top of the list for both Dad and Wayne. In fact, they became good friends, in part because they knew many of the same people.

farm tractor

Where my late father-in-law felt most comfortable. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Wayne was a farmer, and Dad loved farms, but for different reasons. Farming was Wayne’s livelihood. Dad made friends with farmers near and far because he liked to hunt and fish. He also found their various stories fascinating.

Wayne and Dad got along famously. In fact, once Neva and I set our wedding date, both men started to invite folks to the ceremony that knew both families. Unfortunately, some of those people weren’t on our invitation list. Is it any wonder we had 400 guests?

I learned early on that Dad liked to meet new people. He’d take us kids along on his excursions exploring farms all over eastern Ohio.

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller at our daughters wedding in 1998. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

After he retired and stumbled onto the hobby of Indian artifact collecting, Dad’s interests in farms had a new twist. Again, Dad’s high-spirited enthusiasm carried over to his children and grandchildren, who he coaxed into accompanying him on his relic gleaning excursions. It was his version of hands on lessons in history, geography, and conversation.

I knew Wayne liked me right away. On my first visit to the Miller farm, he took me straight to the barn to see the pigs. My wife said it normally took other guys two or three visits. I was honored, and our relationship blossomed from there. He treated his other son-in-law with equal love and respect.

family

Dad and Mom with our daughter, her son, and me. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Dad would use the arrowhead hunting excuse to visit Wayne and Esther’s farm, along with neighboring fields. Their real friendship was just part of the formula that successfully melded our two families together.

Even in death, Wayne and Dad connected. Wayne died on Dec. 22, 2001. Dad died on Dec. 21 eight years later.

It is no wonder that even today people that knew Dad and Wayne describe them both with the same fondness. They use similar complimentary terms to reflect on each man. Both were sociable people, easy to like and admire, they say.

Of course, both Wayne and Dad were human. They each expressed themselves in less than articulate ways at times. But to those who knew them, or maybe only once met either of them, the conclusion was the same.

People remember the genuine congeniality of both Dad and Wayne. That’s a legacy we’d all like to leave.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

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In honor of Father’s Day and catalpa trees

bloomingcatalpabybrucestambaugh

Blooming Catalpa Tree. © Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

I made a very revealing, personal discovery today. The 2014 calendar is identical to the 1947 calendar.

I know that’s not earth-shattering news. But it was for me. And it all started with me taking a photo of a blooming catalpa tree yesterday. I remember a story my late father once told me, one I have written about before, and will never forget.

Whenever the catalpa trees bloom in northern Ohio, Father’s Day is near. I had never paid much attention to that until Dad related his moving story.

On Sunday afternoons, my mother’s parents took turns visiting their three married daughters, all whom lived in Canton, Ohio. But on Father’s Day in 1947, Grandma and Grandpa Frith went to each of their daughter’s homes to visit. While sitting on our my parents’ front porch, Dad eyed a blooming tree down the street, and asked my grandfather if he knew what kind of tree it was. Grandpa Frith told Dad that it was a catalpa tree. Some people refer to it as the cigar tree, in reference to the tree’s long, green fruit pods.

The next day Grandpa Frith went to a job site where he was working as an electrician. He had turned off the power to do his electrical repairs when someone came along and turned the power back on. Grandpa Frith was killed instantly.

In retrospect, Dad said Mom, Aunt Gerry and Aunt Vivian were ever so grateful for that last visit they had with their father. They even wondered if it wasn’t simply meant to be.

I was born that December, never having met my grandfather.

Knowing that this Sunday, June 15 is Father’s Day, the exact same day as 67 years ago, seeing that blooming catalpa tree had even more meaning for me than ever before.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

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Remembering Dad in the very best ways

bigmeadowsbybrucestambaugh

Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I was certain I could hear Dad, and see him, too.

My wife and I were making marvelous memories with our daughter and her family in Shenandoah National Park. We drove a section of the Skyline Drive, and stopped to hike a couple of trails.

As we motored along the twisting scenic highway that runs the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia’s mesmerizing Shenandoah Valley, I remembered I had been there before. I said out loud to no one in particular, “I haven’t been here since I was a kid.”

Indeed, it was the same stretch of road that I had ridden along with my parents and siblings nearly 60 years ago. On that trip, we were on our way to visit some of Mom’s relatives in southern Virginia. Dad, always up for an adventure, insisted we detour to experience the vistas, floral and fauna that the famous Skyline Drive offered. I think we stopped at every turn out to embrace the views.

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The excursion with our grandkids was a diversion from the hectic schedule of finishing the school year and rushing from soccer matches to baseball games. I couldn’t have anticipated the emotions it would evoke in me remembering that long ago family vacation.

I could hear my late father in the rustle of the leaves of the forest canopy, the call of the Eastern Towhees, the fragrance of wild blossoms. I could see him point, index finger to lips, at the grazing white tailed deer that casually ignored us. I heard him shout, “There’s a bear,” as a young black bear scampered across the road in front of our van.

familyphotobybrucestambaugh

Family photo.

It seemed Dad was everywhere we went, in the woods, on the spiny rocks on which we climbed and rested, in the beauty of the Big Meadow where Tiger Swallowtails fluttered free from bloom to bloom, and the field sparrows called from thickets of scrawny locusts and carpets of heather.

I certainly felt Dad’s presence as the grandchildren hoofed it up the trails, scampered steep, craggy rocks, and posed for pictures atop ancient outcroppings with more wavy mountains as the backdrops. I saw Dad’s smile in the grandkids’ smiles.

Once we scrambled to a place where we had a 360-degree view, I corralled the grandkids and their parents to stand for a family photo. Dad carried his camera wherever he went, too, documenting family outings.

The grandkids energy and enthusiasm for exploits carried them past their Poppy onto the heels of their own father while their mother and I lingered to absorb the views and catch our breath. Echoes of the past mingled with those of the present from forested ridge to forested ridge.

When we all assembled on the next precipice, my daughter used my camera to capture me with her trio of trouble and orneriness. The shot joyfully reminded me of my father surrounded by his own youngsters.

I don’t remember stopping at Big Meadows south of Luray on the trip with my family so long ago. As I lovingly watched the grandkids romp along narrow trails that snaked through lush carpets of knee-high grasses and plants, their excitement hit home.

A cool mountain top breeze hurried white fluffy clouds through bluebird egg sky. Emerald forests perfectly framed the sentimental scene. Amid the children’s giddy laughter, I thought I heard my father say, “You were here when you were young, too.”

“I know,” I replied silently with a smile and a tear.

bigmeadowsbybrucestambaugh

© Bruce Stambaugh

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In memory of an impulsive father

thecottagebybrucestambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

My late father was a loving, loveable guy. His impulsive actions, however, often masked those admirable traits.

Combined with his affability and innate friendliness, his good intentions sometimes wrote a recipe for embarrassment if not potential disaster. Even when in the wrong, Dad would turn a negative into a positive.

Dad was definitely gung-ho about everything he did in life. With his many interests, he did a lot in his 89 years of living. He went full force, no holds barred. Dad was simply passionate about life.

If he knew this about himself, Dad certainly never acknowledged this reckless abandon approach to life as a fault. The way he lived, he had to have seen this passion as an attribute.

parentsbybrucestambaugh

My wife and I surprised my parents on Father’s Day in 2009 with a visit to the cottage they had built. We had purchased it from them, and remodeled the cottage. Dad died on Dec. 21 that year.

Dad loved sports, especially outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. He also amassed an extensive Indian artifact collection. Dad was involved in many community activities, almost always in leadership positions. The end result was that he made many friends in his lifetime.

Dad’s enthusiasm sometimes got the best of him, and others, too. The story my nephew shared at Dad’s memorial service three and half years ago pretty well summed up my father’s impulsiveness. The story is true with no hyperbole interjected.

Mom and Dad had a cabin on Clendening Lake in southeast Ohio. They loved to host friends and family as frequently as possible. My younger brother and his family attended one such outing.

pontooncolorsbybrucestambaugh

A favorite activity of Dad’s was to pile everyone onto his pontoon boat for a combination cruise and fishing trip around the 14-mile long lake. The scenery was always enjoyable. The fishing on the other hand often was more bait than catch.

On this particular voyage, Dad had found a spot right across the lake from the cabin. My nephew reported that the fishing was good until my father’s impetuosity intervened.

Dad cherished interacting with people, often to the point of being late for supper or forgetting an appointment altogether. I think he invented the word “relational.”

While my brother and his family were concentrating on catching croppies, Dad noticed another boat on the opposite shore. He thought it looked like the owner of the cabin next to his.

fallfishermanbybrucestambaughDad suddenly announced to his surprised passengers, “Hey, that looks like Bennett over there,” and up came the boat anchors. Lines were reeled in, and across the lake they went at full throttle.

Since Clendening isn’t a very wide lake, it didn’t take too long to reach the spot where Mr. Bennett was fishing. My nephew recalled wondering why his grandfather wasn’t decreasing the pontoon’s speed as they got closer and closer to the south shore.

Seeing the inevitable, my brother motioned for Dad to slow the boat or change coarse. He did neither.

Dad instead responded by yelling a series of “Hellos” to Mr. Bennett, who at first waved back, then tried frantically to wave Dad off.

Dad greeted his neighbor by ramming the pontoon boat into the much smaller bass boat, tipping it and its owner into the murky lake. Fortunately the water was shallow there. But all of Mr. Bennett’s rods, reels, tackle boxes and stringer sank straight to the lake’s bottom.

Dad had finally stopped the pontoon by the time Mr. Bennett had popped up soaking wet. What was my father’s first comment to Mr. Bennett after the crash? An apology? Not exactly.

Dad matter-of-factly hollered, “Hey, Bennett, are you catching anything?”

fatherandsonsbybrucestambaugh

My older brother, Craig, and I accompanied our father, Dick Stambaugh, on an Honor Flight trip to Washington. D.C. on Sept. 12, 2009. We posed in front of the Ohio pillar at the World War II Memorial.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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A father who loved life, sometimes too much

Stambaughs by Bruce Stambaugh

My older brother, Craig (middle), and I accompanied our father, Richard H. Stambaugh, on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12, 2009.


By Bruce Stambaugh

My father loved life and his family, sometimes with reckless abandon. He seldom realized the latter. Dad chose to express his affection through actions rather than words. He enjoined his family in whatever he enjoyed doing, and Dad had a wide range of interests throughout his long life.

Dad especially had an affinity for all things outdoors. My brothers, sisters and I learned much about nature and sportsmanship. We also learned about safety, although I don’t think that was the primary lesson Dad had in mind.

Dad’s uninhibited fervor occasionally overrode practicality. The tricky tandem of affability and naiveté resulted in some memorable if not scary situations.

Parents by Bruce Stambaugh

Dad and Mom on their 66th wedding anniversary.

Take the time my older brother and I nearly drowned while Dad was supposed to be watching us. I was too young to remember this incident, but I heard the story so often, I can visualize it in my mind. Craig was six. I was two. We lived on a channel that connected two lakes.

My brother and I wandered on to the boat dock behind our house. According to the neighbor, the next thing she heard was plop, plop. When she no longer saw us standing on the dock, she assumed the worst, jumped in the water and pulled us both to safety. I understand our mother gave our father a good going over, and with that fearful incident firmly ingrained in my psyche I never learned to swim.

My first actual memory of my father is less dramatic, although it, too, was problematic. Dad handed me a bottle of soda. That gesture certainly was tame enough. Problem was I was only three and at the time sitting on the ceiling rafters of the house in which I grew up. Dad and my great uncle Elmer built the brick bungalow together. Dad wanted his family to see the progress to date.

There I was a toddler dangling over what was to be the dining room, Dad proudly smiling, handing me a Coca Cola from the floor below. Either they had nailed me to the 2 x 6 or they were overly trusting that I wouldn’t fall.

Sometimes the unsettling consequences weren’t necessarily Dad’s fault. Dad signed up the family for a special all day passenger train excursion from our hometown of Canton, Ohio to Cambridge, Ohio and back, a distance of about 120 miles roundtrip. The only problem was the train’s locomotive had so many mechanical issues we were gone for 24 hours. No food service or sleeping quarters were available on the train. We arrived home at 6 a.m., and once again Mom was not pleased.

Clendening by Bruce Stambaugh

Over the years, Dad spent many enjoyable days hunting and fishing with family and friends in the Clendening Lake region of southeastern Ohio.


On a family outing to Leesville Lake, Dad rented a boat with a capacity of four for a family of seven. Dad thought two kids counted for one adult. The boat patrol officer thought otherwise.

Should I even mention the time Dad left Craig, our cousin and me in a drenching rainstorm 40 miles from home? In honor of Father’s Day, let’s just say that it all worked out in the end. Mom, of course, had the last say.

Certainly not all of our experiences with our gung-ho Dad were harrowing in nature. We had many, many good times together. I do believe that our vicarious adventures with Dad taught my siblings and me to both enjoy life and to do so responsibly.

Dad was a loving, lovable guy who at times simply couldn’t help himself. I am forever grateful for his headlong dives into life.

Headstone by Bruce Stambaugh

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I am my father’s son

By Bruce Stambaugh

My son has been trying not so subtly to tell me this for a long time. I am my father’s son.

What he means of course is that I act just like my late father did. Out of principle, I deny it of course, or at least I did. I didn’t think I was like my father at all, especially not his bad points.

Stambaugh men by Bruce Stambaugh

My older brother, Craig, our late father, Richard "Dick", and myself at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I could clearly see that both my older and younger brothers each had many of Dad’s characteristics. The older is outgoing and antsy. The younger most physically resembles Dad, and is an avid sportsman.

But me be like Dad. No way. Dad wasn’t the best driver. I was once a certified driver education teacher. Dad was consistently late. I like being early. I wasn’t like my father at all, or so I thought.

As I have aged, I have humbly swallowed my pride. I realize that my son is right, although I probably don’t exactly see the resemblances that he sees.

I love some of the same things my late father did: nature, history, geography, travel, sports, antiques, community involvement, a sense of humor, and family. Dad poured his entire being into activities and organizations that revolved around those topics. That was especially true after he retired.

Dad helped found, foster and lead a private sportsmen’s club. He served on a regional planning board for 36 years. I wonder how much Dad’s involvement influenced my own participation in the organizations and institutions with which I affiliated over the years.

Dad’s love of travel took our family on many day trips to art and history museums, parks and other points of interest around the state. We got to know Ohio well.

That desire to explore and learn rubbed off onto me. My wife and I traveled with our two children, and like my own youthful experiences, many of our jaunts were day trips throughout the Buckeye State.

Dad wasn’t afraid to venture beyond Ohio’s boundaries either. He would travel with our mother when she attended out of state art classes. While Mom painted, Dad scoured field after field for Native America artifacts, one of his favorite pastimes.

In the evening, when it was time to share what each artist had accomplished, Dad was invited to show what he had found. Of course, he had to expound on the exact type of artifact, how it was used, and made. Dad knew a lot, much of it self-taught.

Storm clouds by Bruce Stambaugh

The backside of a severe thunderstorm.

My special hobby is the weather, especially extreme weather. I enjoy watching storms, and telling others about them. When people’s eyes start to glaze over, I realize it’s time to quit. That never bothered my father, however.

Dad taught me the value of preserving the old things, especially if the items happened to have been in the family. He and Mom gave my wife and I several well worn but personally valuable antique pieces that go back three family generations.

Dad’s handwriting was hardly legible. Mine is worse. Dad often mispronounced words. He always exchanged a “l’ for the “n” in chimney. When I catch myself garbling words, or more likely, when my son catches me doing that, my thoughts happily connect to Dad.

There it is. I gladly acknowledge that for better or for worse, I am my father’s son. I wonder if my son realizes he is, too.

Siblings by Bruce Stambaugh

The Stambaughs, Craig, Claudia Yarnell, Jim, Elaine Barkan, our mother Marian, and me.

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When the catalpa trees bloom

By Bruce Stambaugh

I remember the catalpa tree that grew across the street from my childhood home. I had no idea that such a tree had a brief but pinnacle part in the history of our family until my late father related an unforgettable story to me about this time last year.

We were on our way to one of Dad’s numerous doctors’ appointments regarding treatment for his aggressive cancer. I drove. Dad rode shotgun, while his walker took the backseat.

During each trip to and from the doctors, Dad would tell me many stories about his past, the family, or complain about his Cleveland Indians, the team he loved to hate.

If Dad weren’t feeling particularly well, he would ride along silently, head turned gazing out the passenger window. He might speak up if something caught his fancy, like a field he thought would be good for hunting arrowheads.

On this particular trip, Dad was quiet until he spied a catalpa tree.

catalpa tree by Bruce Stambaugh

The fading blossoms of a catalpa tree overhanging a pond.

“See that tree?” he queried. I answered in the affirmative. “That’s a catalpa tree like the one by our house.”

I assured him that I remembered the tree. We called it the cigar tree because of the elongated, greenish-brown seedpods that it produced.

The tree’s broad canopy loaded with big, lobed leaves provided plenty of shade. We lamented, however, that it grew so close to the road. Its blossoms were large, white and fragrant.

“I remember the Sunday your Grandpa and Grandma Frith visited us,” Dad continued. By “us” he meant Mom, my older brother and himself. I was six months along in my mother’s womb. It was June 1947.

While sitting on the porch of my parent’s first home that Sunday afternoon, my grandfather saw a tree in full bloom that he didn’t recognize. Grandpa asked what kind of tree that was, and Dad told him it was a catalpa tree.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Dad said, “because after visiting with us, he and Grandma also visited with Aunt Gerry and Aunt Vivian.” They were my mother’s sisters, who also each had a child.

Dad’s voice softened as the thoughts played out in his mind.

“Normally Grandma and Grandpa Frith only visited one daughter per Sunday,” he said. “But for some reason this Sunday they went to all three families.”

“I was always so glad they had done that,” Dad revealed with rare emotion, “because the next day was when Grandpa Frith was killed.” My grandfather was an electrician and had been accidentally electrocuted on a worksite.

I knew the electrocution story by heart. But I never knew of the fateful Sunday afternoon visits.

The other day I happened to see a catalpa tree in full bloom. It was tall with an impressive crown and full of showy white blossoms, just like I remembered from my childhood. I smiled, and fondly if not sadly thought of both my grandfather and my father.

Dad had taught my brothers and sisters and I a lot about life. Foremost in his teaching was the importance of family.

Now, whenever I see the catalpa’s showy white blossoms, I will be forever reminded of that poignant lesson, and eternally thankful that Dad had related that personally valuable slice of family history.

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