This blog is not for the light-hearted or easily offended. If either one of those descriptions applies to you, i would suggest you start drinking before you read this blog. A sense of humor is suggested. If you don't have one that sucks for you … find one and get a life!
It’s 4:30 in the morning and I was lying awake thinking of my dad and I thought maybe now would be a good time to put pen to paper and jot down my thoughts. It is with some trepidation that I begin as I was known in my family as “Miss Malapropos” because my command of the English language was somewhere between the 2nd and 4th grade level.
When I think of my Dad of course, all the standard words such as kind, thoughtful, intelligent, caring and knowledgeable come to mind, but for me the one work I think of is intimidating. My dad was extremely intimidating. As a kid, I thought there was nothing he couldn’t do. He was this competent, magical man who just did everything.
When we needed information, he knew the answer. No subject was too obscure for my dad. When we needed something fixed, he fixed it. Tools were important to my dad. He was extremely well organized and his shop was of professional caliber.
To make sure we didn’t touch his tools, he gave us our own tools and our own kid’s work bench@ This working with everyone but my brother Bruce, who undoubtedly would not only touch my dad’s tools but lose them as well. However this was a blessing too because it taught me why people have middle names. I knew whenever I heard “Lynn Karen Procton,” that I was in big trouble.
Of course, being the apple of my dad’s eye, I rarely heard this. However, “Bruce Edward Procton, get down here” could be heard on a daily basis.
Because of his love of tools, I was the only girl to go to college with her own tool kit. Many people spend their days just before this even shopping with their moms to get stuff ready for their room. My last days prior to college were spent going to Sears, getting my own took kit, and picking up my new tools.
To this day, I have my handy, dandy tool kit, as we refer to it.
As a result, I am one of the few girls able to operate a table saw, drill press, and just about any other tool there is. My dad was thrilled when one Mother’s Day my husband continue the tradition and bought me a pneumatic hammer and a compressor.
Dad could always be found down in the shop, as woodworking was his hobby. Many people think that my parents collected sculpture because of their love the arts, but in fact, this was the only way they could keep up with my father’s output of beautiful wooden pedestals. He built pedestals for sculptures, pedestals for plants and used to joke that he was planning a giant pedestal on which to put my mother!
My dad loved to laugh. His sense of humor was great but sense of fun and silliness was greater. We would take long trips and he would make up tall tales that were so tremendous. We never knew what to believe or not believe but we sure laughed a lot!
Inappropriate laughter was also another specialty of my dads. I will never forget my younger brothers high school graduation because we laughed the entire time. My mother was so disgusted with us that she made us move away from here. After that, we were grounded for a long time and were not allowed to sit next to each other. We could often be found giggling over some stupid comment or another, just enjoying each other’s company.
My dad also loved trees and could often be found wandering around the house clipping here and snipping there. There was hardly a type of tree that he was not familiar with. My most memorable trip to the Bronx Zoo had nothing to do with the animals. Dad was naming every tree he ran across, and if you’ve ever been to the Bronx Zoo, you would know that was a lot of trees!
When I was young, I used to feel sorry for all the other kids because I felt my dad was so great. He knew everything. We were the only family who had a subscription to Scientific American, by choice! It seemed there wasn’t anything he didn’t know. His knowledge was endless. A trip to the beach was a learning experience. Peach trees, sweet potatoes and many other facts were divulged with great frequency. I always referred to him as the “king of useless trivia” and I thought he knew facts that hadn’t even been discovered yet.
He was also a very supportive father. He went to every swim meet Brad, Bruce and myself had for about 16 years. He was always congratulating us if we swam well and giving us a warm hug if we didn’t. He had to listen to the words “we smeared them!” from a 9 year old to the point of exasperation. He and mom were our biggest cheerleaders although to listen to him describe his experience with swimming, you would have thought he hated it. He always felt that the chlorine must have damaged our minds.
He was also a volleyball player and then a racquetball player. As you would have expected, from the time he picked up a racquet, he was a great player. He played with the same guys for 20 years. He was proud of his disgusting ability to “svitz” and loved the sport.
He was also proud of his ability to spit. I can remember countless times when he would line the 3 of us up, outside on the ramp at our house, to see if we had increased our “muzzle velocity.” Of course I always thought this was disgusting and may be the only girl on earth who was trained from an early age to spit on cue. By the way, I stink at this. Just last spring, we all went up to the mountains to pick cherries and he was challenging my husband Kevin to a cherry pit-spitting contest. Kevin felt he would win easily but he was no match for the champion spitter that was my father.
He could do everything well: good athlete, great builder, creative inventor, smart and funny – in a word intimidating.
He was a great dad, a wonderful husband to two lucky women, a loving grandfather and a good friend. I could recount funny stories, too numerous to count, about my dad but I am hoping that each one of you have your own amusing anecdotes.
Dad, thanks for giving me a sense of humor to carry me through tough times and adversity; it has served me well. Thanks for teaching me what a commitment is.
You have now gone home to be with mom, your wife of more than 40 years and your soul mate, however I have one last thank you. Thank you for giving me Eleanor. She has become a trusted friend ad confidante to me.
She is now the grandmother to 7 fortunate grandchildren and she is as close to a mom as I could get. For that, my family and I owe you. An expression my father always used was “you’re only as good as you word.” I give you my word that I will try to carry on your teachings in your absence.
I miss you. You were a great dad. I love you.