My Dad is the best. He introduced me to great radio personalities, such as Garrison Keillor and John Boy and Billy. The Saturday nights when Mom was working we would sit around the radio to listen to the adult stories of Lake Wobegon – three little girls and their father. I remember hearing things that confused me and things that opened my mind. I remember him laughing over the stories and laughing too, though I hardly understood the humor.
Dad would read to us all the time. Every evening after supper and after the sun went down, he would sit on his corner of the couch and pick up the book we were working our way through. He read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to my sisters and me completely through on three separate seasons of life. One of the books, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was so old that it was in three parts. That collection of paperbacks was the collection my Dad first read while in high school. He read all sorts of books to us and he could read over an hour straight. When he got tired, we would fetch him water and when that no longer sustained him, he would set the book down, always at the end of a chapter, with a promise that we would read again tomorrow. And he always kept his promise. Dad read the Alexander Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo to me in high school. I was well old enough to read that book on my own, especially because it was the abridged version. However, that book is special to me now because I first experienced it through the deep, smooth tones of my father’s voice.
My Dad has the best voice. Wherever we have gone, people have always asked him if he was ever in radio. His voice has that effect on people. He honestly hates that question. Maybe it’s because he gets asked so frequently or that just because one has a deep voice should not mean one was automatically in radio. Where a good voice has its benefits in radio, one’s success in radio is absolutely dependent on personality. Now my Dad has a great personality and a wonderfully dry sense of humor. He could have been the next Garrison Keillor. But he never did radio. He has always stayed behind his keyboard, except for his time as a television news reporter. My Dad loves stories. He loves good stories, well-written stories. He enjoys realism. He has an entire shelf on one of his bookcases dedicated to the first world war. He has very high standards, scholarly standards for literature – A standard worthy of achievement.
Dad taught, or I should say, he tried to teach grammar to me – I’m sure he does not want to be associated with my failures in spelling and grammar. He did what he could, but I’m a hard headed girl and did not heed much of his advice. I learned a lot from him. I’m not sure how much that is saying because I’m not super carefully in those areas. I can compose run-ons with ease. I can split an infinitive in my sleep. I can extrapolate a metaphor until you are beyond confused. I can misspell a word so awfully that spell check or google cannot help me. I aspire to be a great writer like Dumas or a good storyteller like Keillor and so I look at my abilities and conclude I could stand to learn a thing or two from my Dad’s old teachings. I read great writers and I get discouraged. I want to achieve so much, but I fall so short of their eloquence and grace. I’m an awkward kid in the world of poised adults. But there has to be a place for me in this literary world. I’ll find it or I’ll make it. I’ll learn the rules and be a master like the greats. I will spend my days in study and craft. I will write until I am the master of syntax. I will win my Dad’s respect. My books will land on his shelves with the same honor as other cherished works. He will say of my books with a soft smile and a genuine nod, “that is well-written,” and I will rejoice.