Remembering Dad on Father’s Day | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Jun 19, 2017

Memories of my dad follow me through my days, continuing to bless my life after many decades without his physical presence.

On Father’s Day, I think of him in especially sweet, nostalgic ways. He was my hero – an image that never tarnished. I was a “Daddy’s Girl” from the get-go. My father modeled everything I ever needed to know about unconditional love – and about honor and helpfulness and humor.

When I was a little girl on the family fruit ranch in Yakima, I followed my dad around whenever I had the opportunity, a four-year-old shadow in a red jacket. Often after dinner, he’d push his chair back from the table, thank my mother for supper and head out to walk the irrigation ditches, shovel in hand.

Most times I’d hop up from the table, too, and follow him from the kitchen, my mother smiling her permission and my brother preferring to hang out in the house.

I remember those soft eastern Washington evenings on the ranch, the day mercifully cooling. I remember the air fragrant with sage and apricots, the stillness broken by the sudden dash of a rabbit or call of a bird. We’d stop now and then when my dad would reach with his shovel to break loose weeds or branches slowing the progress of the irrigation water.

Sometimes my father held my hand. Most times, though, I half-skipped, half-trotted behind him along the ditch path. It was dusk when we returned to the kitchen door, leaving dirty boots and shoes on the mat and padding into the house in our socks. A tired girl, ready for a bath and bed, I counted that after-dinner ramble with my dad as the highlight of my day.

When I was 6, we moved to the Seattle area, and I started first grade in Lake City. My childhood innocence was tempered by the shocking differences of our family’s routine – a city existence when all I’d ever known was a Yakima ranch. In Lake City?

A small house on a small lot, with neighbors in houses too close to ours on either side. Certainly there were no wild rabbits, no long row of old cherry trees bordering our property, no irrigation ditches!

In Lake City, my father went to work each day at a local Western Auto store at about the same time my brother and I walked to the corner to catch the school bus. My life suddenly filled with way too many children, too much traffic, too many cautions. My mother planted flowers and made a cozy home for her family – always her calling.

My father came home just before dinnertime; sometimes he and I sat on the front steps together after dinner. On weekends, our family cruised around Seattle in our Pontiac, driving through different parts of the city each week.

It didn’t take long for my dad to lengthen those Sunday rides to include outlying towns. When he and my mother discovered Edmonds, they quickly determined that life in a small waterfront town would suit their family – which it certainly did.

The Western Auto store on the northwest corner of Fourth and Main became the first retail business my father owned, prior to the decades of Bradbury’s TV. Before long, he also owned a boat, the first of many. We all made friends. We acquired a cat. My brother and I walked to school. My dad and I applied for library cards. I don’t think any of us missed the ranch any more.

This weekend is Father’s Day, and I miss my dad. He was devoted, thoughtful, honest, funny, fair, loving and even-tempered.

He was the best man I’ll ever know.


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