Dad always had a good head of hair so it was difficult seeing him bald when he first went through chemo. Fortunately, dad had a great sense of humor and kind of rolled with it. But, with time…the hair was back and he was looking good…for at least another year or so before he passed away.
Growing up with dad never saw him outside of work without a hat on, especially after retirement. I think he actually slept with a hat on. How he wore the hat always had the bill of the hat down over his eyes which made for a funny experience one time when he and mom went to purchase a car.
Not wanting to play his cards, dad sat motionless and speechless as the car salesman sat across them seeking to close the deal. Speaking more to my mom as dad wasn’t looking up, the car salesman struggled to get a read on dad as he continuosuly leaned in and tried to catch my dads eyes under the bill of his hat. But dad…he would not flinch and was not impressed with this now desparate salesman.
Closing his pitch, the salesman finally stopped talking and leaned in once again and tilted his head to try to catch my dads eyes…with this…dad finally spoke…
“Yeah, I’m under here.” and with this…I don’t even remember if they ended up buying the car but I tell you this…that salesman learned that he was not going to be able to play games with dad.
Dad was a great listener and when you were done speaking you could expect him to tell you just what he thought. He was a straight shooter and spoke with such wisdom and respect. But, you would never hear him interrupt you. He was kind and polite. But most importantly, he was engaged and although the hat was almost always on with the bill covering his eyes and you were thinking why was he was not saying much…he was actually very present and engaged with what you were saying.
It was this characteristic about him that made me look forward to stop talking and to start listening to what he had to say. And in this…one thing was also a given in that what he said would always leave you with a sense that it was going to be ok and that you would get through it. It may not be easy, but you would get through it. And it was this quiet confidence he had in you that encouraged you to take that next step.
It’s funny, as I write this several years following his passing, I only now begin to grasp onto this about dad and in this I now begin to grasp the responsibility of taking that baton and passing this trait onto my family and those around me.
Perhaps in this…someday, I too will have the opportunity to say, “Yeah, I’m under here.”