So, I decided to share it. But more to share MY big fish.
It's the dad. Well, more the main character who is a dad by the end. The whole story is from him, but it's in the perspective his kids grew up hearing. Of course the kids grew up hearing his life stories that way because he chose to tell them the way he needed to remember them.
Yes, I said needed. Not how he did remember. Children don't understand this concept until they aren't children anymore. I didn't. No child does.
So, my own "big fish". If you know me at all, it's obvious. I miss him incredibly, even though I've gotten accustomed to his absence. He wasn't always the best dad in the world. In fact, I'm pretty sure he never would have received "father of the year". But he was amazing, and forever cherished in my heart, no matter what the critics on the outside say.
Of course, I only know the stories from his perspective, unlike the movie where the funeral revealed what was truth and what was exaggeration. The best part in that movie, it was all "truth" behind his stories. All of it. the exaggerations were simply novelty, nothing that was intended to be a lie. Simply "adjectives" to enhance the good parts. Knowing my dad, those "adjectives" weren't there for me to enjoy the story more. They were all for him. For his acceptance of how his life played out. For the things he had no control over, and for decisions he made. The psychologist and Christian say this isn't the way to "deal", but what if it really is to some degree. What if you have "dealt" and as you share your life, you understand there is no need to share all the realities. What if the "adjectives" are how you create a desire for adventure and life in your own children, while saving them from being afraid of the world.
He taught me to believe that thing that hangs in the back of your mouth is called a "gaggle hanger" because it hangs there, and if you touch it, you gag.... duh!! I'll never forget the day I felt so smart when my teacher asked if anyone knew the correct name for it. I went home crying because she didn't believe me. My dad was there to comfort me with the fact that teachers don't always know everything...
If you lost a tooth and never stuck your tongue in the hole, the new one would come in GOLD! I can't tell you how many times he told me "Your tongue must have slipped in there when you were sleeping". And if the old tooth was good and healthy, the tooth fairy gave them to clams to turn into round pearls.
Did you know if you play with your belly button too much, it will make your butt fall off!! If only it were that easy!
The fun helicopter things that fall from trees in the spring are really fairy wings. The spring/summer fairies hibernate in the trees during the winter and shed them when they wake up. They can make almost any boo-boo feel better! Really!!
I had a really rough semester in College, which included a heart break and a really bad case of mono, along with some other junk. My dad sent me a card with a "fairy wing" taped inside. It worked. What I wouldn't give to still have that card. Not to mention our shared thing for strawberry milk shakes to help us feel better. Mmmm..... Aaron still offers me strawberry milkshakes when I'm upset, and it still makes me feel better.
Oh, and a personal favorite. Dad and I were going to own a pie and ice cream shop one day. With a long counter that held a baby grand piano on one end for live music on certain nights. I had "invented" sweet potato pie, which was simply a version of sweet potato casserole we make for holidays (sooo incredibly good! Mashed with pineapple and some brown sugar, topped with mini marshmallows and some mere-chino cherries, thrown into the oven until golden on top.) I simply decided the pie version should go on a graham cracker crust. Once in college (college mind you!! 20 years old!!) I went to a place in South Carolina with sweet potato pie on the menu.... what!! I called my dad, flabbergasted, because he must have known this existed already. (He had led me to believe for years it was my invention.) And his response... "I'm so sorry hun! We just didn't get a patent on it in time!" All I could do was grin. I knew it was a form of a "big fish", but it was a fish I wanted to keep.
Of course, the really "big fish" come from his life story. Most of which I can't or won't share on here. I bought him a book once, with a question every day for one year. Intended for a parent to eventually pass on to their child, leaving a book in their own words about their life and experiences. After a few weeks he teared up and apologized that he just couldn't keep doing the book. The questions seemed to dig a little too deep. I wish I had it completed, and at the same time, I praise God I don't know all he was too hurt to write about.
My dad was mostly on his own by his early teens. He rode the trains as a classic, old fashioned tramp! My uncle told me after dad died, when they received word my dad was coming to town, they went to the train station late in the evening and started whispering his name, checking under the cars until he popped out. Full of stories from his latest travels. I find that exciting! (of course, this was back in the 30's. I wouldn't find this as exciting today.
His mom could throw a rubber mallet over a mile to where the out house was, and smack dad right in the head for teasing his brother with wax paper when the bathroom was fresh out of the sears catalog. And he didn't just walk 5 miles up hill in snow to school (both ways of course) but he had to carry a brother on his back since they only had enough shoes for each child to have one. If you wanted a pair, you had to make a deal!
He went into the Navy at 17 to fight in WWII, (picture on the left was in 1947, at 18 or 19 yrs. old) where they sharpened old anchors and tied on the rotten meat to catch great white sharks for food, after they'd been out to see longer then expected. He smuggled a little girl from Japan who watched her parents die in front of her. Within a few months of being back in the states he saw that she was put in a children's home so she could be adopted. Realizing he wasn't ready to parent a preschooler just yet.
He was an ice deliverer for the old style iceboxes for a bit and sold vacuums door to door. He explored the west, found gold with 2 of his brothers, owned a restaurant, land in California and a few semi trucks. (He's off to do more exploring out west with Uncle Gene and Uncle Walter in this picture. He's on the left.)
Did I mention he ROBBED A BANK! (or maybe some sort of store??) Yes, he served his time, and yes, he did it with his brother... those brothers... He also got "kicked out of Ohio", according to him. But that's how he went to California where he met my mom.
I was raised watching westerns, listen to barbershop music (of which he sang in for years) and staring at his old slides of the western desserts from his travels. I still have a whole box of those slides.
A few years after he died, my uncle met with me over a LONG breakfast and talked all about my dad. His stories were in fact, "fish". They were real to a point. I'd talk about some things with my mom, like my dad's story of how I was suppose to be a boy, and when I wasn't, he wanted to name me Janetta Rodriguez (could you imagine! I'm so WHITE!) to get back at me. Mom clarified that wasn't how it went down, along with a few other stories I'd always believed. Aaron suggested I stop asking my mom about the different stories because I kept getting disappointed at how the real version went.
He didn't share much of the war or the really hard stuff, which he had plenty of. Some I discovered as I grew and came to piece things together. Wisdom brings pain in times where your realizing what young life was really like for someone you love so deep. Why they have so many "big fish" stories. Stories that are truth cluttered with "adjectives". "Fish" worth keeping.
I was broken for months after his death. I was angered after a year passed, that I wasn't able to stop time. Longed for him to be at my college graduation. Grieved my future husband would never know him. Mourned a father/daughter dance at my wedding. Saddened he will never hold my little girls.
I know he's not looking down from heaven. I believe that's nothing more then a "good intentions" statement leading to false comfort. But I know he was proud of me before he passed, and I know our relationship was the healthiest it had ever been. I guess that's what makes it so hard.
My dad may have raised me on "big fish" but he raised me to love the world, adventure and challenge. I never would have left our corner or Ohio if he hadn't. I wouldn't have cared to step out on my own two feet if he didn't start me off flying around to family for 6 weeks at the age of 12. We loved to share our stories of adventure. If I showed the tiniest interest in something, we were at the library, looking it up. (Once it led me to breading gerbils! Over 80 of them went through our home! Of course, it took a little convincing for mom at first... but dad and I were a good team at this... most of the time.)
I don't want to know how different I would be if I didn't have the same dad.
My children will know how dear their Grandpa is to me, and I will pass on his "Big Fish".
I'll find a lot joy in telling them the tooth fairy uses their good teeth for pearls, and that fairy wings can make almost anything feel better. Of course I'll tell them how to get gold teeth, and best of all, to be careful just how much you play with your belly button!
I'll share his travels, the way I know them to be. The way he wanted them passed on. The crazy adventures and amazing and unique things he did.
Jack Raymond Scott
Sept. 19, 1928-Jan. 3, 2005
Sept. 19, 1928-Jan. 3, 2005