Dad’s Home! I remember announcing his arrival every night at precisely 5:50 p.m. when he walked through the front door of our small yellow rambler. Not out loud, that would have been dorky, but in my mind, I shouted the words every night. The bus always dropped Dad at the top of the hill right on schedule and his jaunty step from the bus stop to the front door brought him home to us at the same predictable hour. Each night I looked forward to Dad’s return, not only because it meant we were in for a delicious home cooked meal, but because the dinner hour was the time Dad shared his fabulous mind with us—and, as a result, I learned the color, shape and character of his heart.
Mom always had dinner on the table when he arrived. She gave Dad no more than ten minutes to change from his business suit into his white t-shirt and jeans, because apparently we needed to be in our seats before the clock struck 6:00 p.m. Why the schedule was so tight I will never know, but we didn’t question it; we just sat our butts in the vinyl chairs at the small faux wood kitchen table and waited for Mom’s simple but delicious home cooking. But food wasn’t the driving force behind my love of the dinner hour. It was Dad’s dinnertime recitals that brought joy to me each night.
My fondest memories reside in the years between age ten and fifteen, years when I was trying desperately to be more like my beautiful, popular sister, Sue. Maybe Dad sensed my lack of social skills and wanted to give me a different outlet—I’m not sure—but, his words went a long way toward soothing my socially awkward soul.
So, each night at the dinner table, here’s how it went down: In deference to his girls (poor Dad, even the dog and two cats were female) he would sit back for the first ten minutes while we talked about school (me), boys (Sue) and bridge parties (Mom). Then, the magic happened. Dad turned off the left side of his brain, the side he used to work for an insurance company all day, and flipped the switch to his right brain. I can still hear the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain as Dad became The Raven, shouting “Nevermore”. I wanted to jump out of my chair as Poe’s creepy words rolled off my father’s tongue. Continue reading