Moments Matter

For Dad: We Are Not Alone

Editor’s Note: As many of you know, I have been slowly working on an autobiographical book over the last few years. When originally launching Clearly Kristal, I had the intention to include portions of my book on my blog. I have done this frequently on my blog. I first read of this concept of blogging a book from author and writing coach Nina Amir entitled “How to Blog a Book.”

meonswingIn order to stay motivated during the summer months to keep my manuscript progressing, I’ve decided to include an excerpt from my manuscript each week. These will often times be rough descriptions of growing up in a quirky, hippie, blue collar family in Central California, to the present.

I hope you enjoy stepping back in the moments that matter to me over these coming summer months.

“For Dad: We Are Not Alone” – Summer Blogging-a-Book Series.

I stood barefoot on the small wooden stool. I jumped up and down in anticipation of the impending moment: our first cable television set. My dad threw a few choice curse words while fiddling with the wires behind the massive electrical box of magnificent beauty. Of course, it was fairly common that my dad ended up with television set-up duties since he had the same job at our old house.

The country hippie commune house we had just moved from had no cable – unlike our new city rental house. On our farm, the only connection for television was the use of two metal wires that formed a V-shape, which was attached from the television to the roof of our home. For those born after 1990, this object is called an antenna.

Naturally, when the wind picked up, the television would inevitably go out too. My dad would begrudgingly make his way to the top of the roof to reattach the dangling antenna. It was also standard procedure that he polished off one to two large, green jugs of Ernest & Gallo wine before making the windy ascent. The cheap wine jugs often lined the floors of our kitchen as a secondary décor.

Our little two channel television looked similiar to this one.

Our little two channel television looked similiar to this one.

With our television viewing time witling away, my dad would reappear a little while later, his golden sandy blonde hair tousled. He would again throw a few choice words about how much he loved our antenna. You’re sensing my sarcasm, here.

The little color television my dad worked tirelessly to bring the picture back to during the high wind was probably six inches wide with a whopping two channels. It was located in my parent’s bedroom, which was actually a front entrance living room converted into their master bedroom. Guests opened the stain-glass front door were greeted by a king sized waterbed, which was positioned on a wooden frame and bricks. Hanging on the wall behind the waterbed was an oversized red oriental rug. Various ceiling ferns hung in handcrafted macramé baskets.

At the end of the waterbed in the bottom right-hand corner was my favorite spot to watch television. I would kick my legs over the side of the wooden frame. Between the ages of five and six, my favorite shows included “The Flintstones” and “Sesame Street.” I also remember watching television with my parents when the news of Elvis Presley’s death flashed on the tiny screen. I remember feeling sad as my mother said, “The king of rock and roll is dead.” After that, I became obsessed with Elvis Presley. I dreamed of making my way to the giant lyric embossed gates of the King’s home in Memphis, Tennessee. He was dreamy.

So, this new cable television – with no antenna was not only a win for my sisters and I – but my dad seemed just as pleased. Now, the big moment had arrived.

“I can’t see, daddy,” I said, as he stood in front of the television pushing buttons.

I leaned my head around to see only a gray, fuzzy screen. Flashes of a picture faded in and out. I struggled to see the screen. “Why is this taking so long?” I thought to myself. Five minutes in kid time is forever.

My dad flipped through the channels. I finally got a view of the screen in its beauty and splendor. This new 27-inch cable television had been more than I dreamed with its large screen ablaze with bright, rich colors. I was now in the Disneyland of television. My sister and I giggled when we watched the slapstick cat and mouse cartoon “Tom and Jerry” for the first time.

Except for one minor thing.

In all the excitement of the new cable television set, I fell off the stool onto the floor. By then, my dad was in the garage working on something. I ran into him holding my left elbow crying. “I broke it, daddy! It hurts.” My dad tried to make light and playfully grabbed his screwdriver. “Here, this should fix it,” he said, gently touching my arm and pretending to fix my arm with the screwdriver. I still insisted it was broken.

And, yes, it was broken.

My mom took me to the doctor a few days later to confirm a hairline fracture in my elbow. I remember taking my jacket off while I lay on the exam table. Suddenly, the doctor began to chuckle. He was laughing at my t-shirt. The shirt had large purple metallic letters that read: “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” The shirt was a promotional item from the 1978 remake of the sci-fi movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

As the doctor casted my arm, I began to think about how I wasn’t alone. My dad was there to help bring back our television screen countless times, or “fix” my broken arm. For years, he worked through the pains of life in a job he did not enjoy in order to provide for his family. And, through all his flaws and brokenness, he was still my dad. He still loved me.

Like all of us, he’ll eventually leave this world we know. I have a feeling they’ve got something better than digital cable up there in heaven.

He’ll like that.

Do you remember when you watched your first television? Describe your emotions. If you don’t remember, was there a task that required constant maintanance in your home by a parent when you were a child? Do you remember the sacrifices your parents made for you?

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