Tag Archives: blogging about Dad

Having a Foster Farms Moment

19 Mar

It’s been official for about three months now. But it just hit me.

I’ve had his personal belongings. I’ve had his paintings, artwork, and calendars. I’ve had his green cap that hung on the door hook. I’ve had his black Parker pens he kept in the cup. I’ve had our childhood pictures he kept on his desk. I’ve had the wrinkled postcards I sent him from Hawaii and Australia. I’ve had his black Samsonite briefcase. I’ve had all these things … but it just hit me.

I stood there in the meat section of the supermarket contemplating a poultry purchase that never came to pass. It hit me … in all my years of adulthood, I’ve never had to buy chicken … ever.

It has been one of the perks of being in this family. Free chicken. Since 1987 I’ve had that privilege, but after my Dad passed away in 2010, running the business became a little too stressful for my mom, so she decided to sell at the end of last year. And with this sell, one of the last remaining ties I had with my Dad was severed.

Gone.

So it wasn’t really a strange thing for me to have a moment in front of the refrigerated Foster Farms chicken breasts, although the lady in the black running tights and tangerine jacket seemed to think I was a little off. I remembered all the times my Dad, sporting his white butcher coat and apron, stood behind the counter slicing and dicing with his such precision. I remember the sound of the blades scraping against the knife sharpener stick before he began. I thought about how he engaged in conversations with his customers and laughed it up with friends over coffee.

Here's my Dad, starting out in the business, almost the same age that I am today.

Here’s my Dad, starting out in the business, almost the same age that I am today.

I remember getting behind the counter at 15, my first job, trying to slice and dice and all I did was worry my Dad, because I did not inherit his awesome Ninja knife skills. I had the wash the windows and clean the floors skills. Most chics get a quinceanera as a right of passage when they turn 15. I got a white apron.

I remembered all the Thanksgivings and the hundreds of free-range turkeys that surrounded me in the Rocky-style refrigerator. I remembered the paperwork and hundreds of orders I had to match up with our inventory. I remembered the white butcher paper the chicken was wrapped in … it looked nothing like the yellow Styrofoam and plastic wrap in front of me.

I never thought I’d miss chicken.

There were plenty of times when I got tired of it. I could probably write a cookbook with 101 ways to cook chicken that would rival the shrimping recipes Bubba was laying out for Forrest Gump. Not to mention the turkey. But I guess it’s like anything in life, you don’t really miss it until it’s gone.

So I stood there in the meat section of the Vons and just couldn’t do it. I needed something in white butcher paper. But everyone appeared to be on break, so I headed for the pasta aisle.

Chicken tomorrow.

 

It Was A Good Laugh … Had To Be

30 Jan

It’s the one day a year I drink a cup of coffee and try to remember what his laugh sounds like.

I’m a tea drinker, and probably the only person on Earth that doesn’t stop by at Starbucks in the morning for a cup of coffee, but thought it might help jog the memory.

I don’t have it.

There’s evidence of it in plenty of Kodak moments and Polaroids, and I can picture it in my head. But I can’t hear it. I think it’s one of things I miss most about him. I miss hearing him crack up at one of my jokes, or at my awesome dance moves.

I can’t remember what his laugh sounds like. That’s sort of an important thing to someone like me.

I’m lucky though I still know what his voice sounds like. I turn to my 2004 Panasonic cordless phone answering machine from Costco. It has 11 messages, 9 are from him. Eight of them are calling to say hi, the ninth one is him calling from the hospital asking me when I’d be showing up. I hear the messages over and over again just trying to get his voice to stay in the room and maybe it will jog my memory to the sound of his voice when he laughed and how it changed.

No such luck today.

But I still remember what he smelled like. I have his last two bottles of Jovan Musk aftershave. I open them up in the morning and after I put the kids to sleep. Just sat there in the closet surrounded by all his white shirts, pants, and polos, smelling the aftershave.

But no laughter.

I still remember what was close to his heart. I have the black Samsonite work briefcase he carried with him at all times — the one I thought carried contracts, shipping orders and important payroll and tax papers for the poultry shop. We realized after his passing that it wasn’t filled with those things, but with the birthday cards and Father’s Day Cards we had given him throughout the years. But he had no pictures of himself in there.

 

My dad at work, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

My dad in his prime at one of his first jobs, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

 

So I took to the 1970s and 80s photo albums in the closet and checked out my dad in his prime. I searched my computer for some of my favorite pics. The ones with Hawaiian shirts. The ones of my childhood. The ones where I can feel him cracking up. And it makes me remember of an instance where he cracked up so hard he cried. Unfortunately I had no camera then. There were a few instances like that, but this one in particular happened in Guatemala and it involved a water slide.

Water slides do that sort of thing to you. They bring out the smile, the laughter and the fun. They bring out your inner pirate. They juice up your existence.

Doesn’t matter what age, that water raft spinning and swirling, swooshing and splashing you has that you-crack-me-up effect. Maybe it’s the fast-paced slide or the not knowing when a wave is going to splash you, or perhaps it was the height of the slope we swooshed down on, maybe it was a combination of all those things and the fact that my cousin was freaking out that made us laugh.

Whatever it was that was one of the times my dad laughed so hard he cried. That Guatemalan Raging Waters experience was memorable and I was glad to have been part of that. I was glad to have been part of one of his stories that begins with ‘you remember the time we …’

It was a good laugh. It had to be because I’ve spent all day trying to hear it.

It was important to try to hear it today because he would have been 66 years old today.

But even though I may not have seen it on videos, because he was always the cinematographer of the family back when VHS existed, always behind the scenes, I was still able to find glimpses of his laughter through old family pictures.

 

On a Bucket List Adventure.

On a Bucket List Adventure … in Guatemala

 

So I go to bed feeling a little better.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you. Hope you liked your cake this year. I made it from scratch. German Chocolate. I had a big piece.

 

6

Hanging out with my dad back in the day.