Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GUEST- Maureen Hardegree - Invaluable Lessons I Learned from My Father

Father’s Day is only a few days away, and, for me, as each year passes, it becomes harder to find a way to honor my dad. He’s retired. He has everything he needs—including vine-ripened beefsteak tomatoes. When it comes to gifts, my siblings and I have given it all from striped ties to meat-of-the-month club, from his favorite homemade pineapple upside down cake to redeemable coupons for shoe polishing and car washing. Then it hit me. He’d appreciate recognition of how he’s influenced my life. So here are a few invaluable lessons I learned from my dad.

Holidays honoring parents should last longer than a day. Years ago, my father declared that venerating the father was an event of such magnitude it should encompass the entire weekend. Honoring the father started Friday the moment he walked in the door from work and didn’t end until midnight on Sunday. During that third weekend in June, we’d make his favorite meals and allow him to watch whatever he wanted on TV without complaint—even if he “rested his eyes” while watching it. As a mom, I’m totally on board with expanding any holiday honoring parents.

Go light on the vermouth. When making a martini of the traditional sort, Dad liked it on the rocks, double shot of gin, splash of vermouth, two stuffed olives, stirred—not shaken. I won’t tell you what age I was when I learned how to properly mix my dad’s cocktail of choice. I will tell you he still has one most days served at five o’clock on the dot.

Duck tape and epoxy can fix just about anything. Be it broken dolls, chairs, tools, or leather purses. Whatever he was fixing for you might not look attractive, but it was functional.

Resting your eyes is not sleeping. These activities migh t look the same and sound the same, due to snoring. However, while resting your eyes, you wake up when someone turns off the football game you don’t appear to be watching.

Show no mercy to Japanese Beetles. When I was growing up, before we m oved to Louisiana, my dad had grapevines in the backyard. He fermented their juice into wine—and into some tasty balsamic vinegar one year. Nope, not on purpose. One of our summer chores required making our way through the grape vines encouraging the beetles eating the leaves to take a swim in a large mason jar filled with soapy water to kill them, thus ensuring the integrity of his wine. I guess my dad was into organic gardening before it became popular.

What are some unusual lessons you learned from your father?

Although Maureen Hardegree no longer euthanizes Japanese beetles for her father, the heroine in her debut novel Haint Misbehavin’ does. Visit Maureen at .


Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Maureen. Welcome to the 'vert.
Just read the excerpt from Haint Misbehavin' and loved it!

As for dads - my dad's favorite pearl of wisdom was: "Can't never did nothing'."
It taught me early on that if I think I can't so something, then I'm not going to get it done. And it taught me that 'can't' is not a word that bears any weight because if I ever told him, "I can't do that," you can bet that he helped me see it through until I did :o)

Mo H said...

Glad you liked the excerpt! I love your Dadism.

Helen Brenna said...

Hi Maureen! Fun post and congrats on the new release. Love the title and cover.

Cindy - great quote from your dad.

My dad was a great work hard and play hard kind of person. Tends to take a person to a nice balance in life!

Leanne said...

Congrats on your new release Maureen! I still can't make a traditional martini, so you're up on me. My dad did, however, teach me the value of rocking the car from Drive to Reverse when I was stuck in the snow.:) He also proved he could beat the young bucks at golf even when he was 79. Miss him TONS!

Mo H said...

Thanks, Helen. I think dads of our parents' era were all about balance.

Thanks, Leanne. And thanks for the tip on what to do, courtesy of your dad, for when your car is stuck in the snow. I could have used that knowledge this past winter. I got stuck in a drift at the bottom of our driveway! I took my daughter to ballet, and an hour and a half later, the driveway was full o' snow. Pretty unusual for Atlanta!

MsHellion said...

Dad showed me how to make whistles out of hickory branches. You have to do it in spring when the sap is good, but I think I might be able to still manage it. That is if I could identify which one was the hickory tree.

My dad sounds a lot like your dad, esp with the resting the eyes things.

lois greiman said...

Welcome Maureen. My father passed away a few years ago, but his generation sure knew a thing or two about seeing things through. I admire tenacity above all else because of that.

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Maureen! Congrats on the release. Most important thing I learned from my dad: The value of a dollar, or a quarter, or even a penny. (He was an accountant before retiring.)

My dh practices that whole duct tape/epoxy thing. I bought him a new retractable leash for the dog for Father's Day because he's taken the old one apart twice and put it back together with duct tape. I'm sure he won't understand the point of getting him a new one, since the old-but-albeit-ugly one was made functional again.

Mo H said...

Ms. Hellion,
How cool to know how to whittle a whistle from hickory! About the eye resting, isn't it uncanny how they sense the television channel changing? :)

Thanks for the welcome and sorry to hear your dad passed a few years ago. You are so right about our fathers' generation seeing things through.

Mo H said...

Hi, Christie,
Okay, now that's a first for me--a dog leash fixed with duct tape. LOL. Here's another weird use--toe tape for ballerinas. Some of my daughter's friends use it (the Duck Tape brand comes in all sorts of colors--even tie dye) to tape their toes before putting on pointe shoes!

KylieBrant said...

Welcome Maureen!

My dad's favorites were:"Do you need to leave every light on in the house?"; "No use heating the whole outdoors."; and "Money doesn't grow on trees."

His newest truisms are, "Well, everyone's got their problems." and "Oh, well, that's the way things are, I guess." I often wonder who this new accepting pacifist is and what he's done with my dad!

Mo H said...

I love that your dad has mellowed with age. Thanks for sharing his truisms!

LSUReader said...

Your column brought back memories for me. My Dad has been gone for almost three years, but several bits of today's advice could have come straight from him. Thanks for making me smile.

Mo H said...

Sorry that your dad is no longer with you, but glad I could make you smile remembering him and his advice. And GEAUX TIGERS!

Debra Dixon said...

Hey, Maureen!

I'm a little late popping by to say hello and welcome to the convertible!

My dad could fix anything with duct tape. That brought back some memories!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Maureen!

Keep the workshop clean and put the tools back immediately after you use them. Otherwise you'll forget where you left them. So true, Daddy. And since you didn't live to be as old as I am, you never imagined how often I would hear you say that in the back of my mind, where I store the memories I don't ever want to misplace.

Argh! Japanese beetles! Growing up in MA I watched Daddy wage war against their invasion in the '60's. I haven't seen any here in MN yet, but I hear they're coming. Double argh! I'm not squeamish about most critters, but those things give me the creeps.

Mo H said...

Hey, Deb! Thanks for having me! Maybe those of us with dads still around should give them duct tape for Father's Day. I seem to have hit on a universal experience there. :)

Mo H said...

Your dad was right about tools, which is why I can't find mine sometimes. :)

As to Japanese beetles, if you get invaded, try this milky spore stuff. It kills the grubs before they turn into beetles. Don't buy the traps. They merely attract all the beetles from your cul-de-sac, and you will have no roses left. I speak from experience!