Saturday, June 16, 2012
Happy Father's Day
That's my Dad. Yep, coming out of the outhouse that my uncle used to own in Tionesta, PA.
Many of you know that this has been a traumatic year for me and my family. With the death of my mother in February, there isn't a day that goes by that we don't think of her. With Father's Day approaching, it makes me appreciate my Dad that much more.
I have a lot of fond memories of my Dad spending time with my sister and me, but the one which stands out is our annual trip to my uncle's camp in Tionesta. Believe me, this was truly a camp, a hunter's lodge. No running water which meant no shower, no toilet, no TV, no phone, no comforts of home. If we needed water, my sister and I carried a huge jug down to the spring well and carried it back. If we needed to wash our hair, we walked down to the spring. If we had to go to the bathroom, we went to the outhouse. Ick!
The camp's musty smell grew on you like a second skin. We had to pack our clothes in garbage bags because luggage would be ruined. Note: One time my Dad actually packed the garbage from home instead of his clothes, but that's another story! The kitchen and living room were connected with only a center island between them. Eerie magazines (horror comics) rested in the corner basket. Over the couch was a huge picture-puzzle that took up the entire wall. One bedroom with two queen beds shot off from the kitchen. Yep, that was it! In fact, when you pulled into the camp, there was a sign nailed into a tree that said, "Camp. This is it!"
We sat for countless hours at the center island playing cards, normally UNO. My Dad would crack jokes, poke us and make us laugh. He taught us how to fish and even though I never wanted to bait my own hook, he was forever patient and never complained about doing it. He ensured that my sister and I had a great time. And we always did!
Down the road was a very small animal habitat with deer, raccoon, rabbits and Rosie and Jiggs. Rosie and Jiggs were two black bears that we never failed to stop and visit.
My uncle's camp was the last camp at the bottom of the hill and sat next to a heavily wooded area. Bears have been known to visit. Sometimes at night, my Dad would light a bonfire and we would cook hot dogs or roast marshmallows. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the fire making popping noises into the night and smell the smoky wood and crackling leaves. I can still see the glowing embers floating up into the tall, dark pine trees.
I'll never forget the fun times we had there. And even though it didn't have any amenities, my Dad made it a place for a wonderful family gathering.
What was the best memory you have of doing something with your father?