I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. Maybe because it was just father’s day or maybe because his would be 71st birthday is coming up soon, but I also think it’s because I’ve been talking to a lot of people about their experiences with their fathers or step-fathers and I’ve heard the full range of the best to the worst. It makes me really thankful that my dad fell on the scale of the best.
He was really a good dad. Complete with his own made up language and lullabies that wouldn’t put the most exhausted child to sleep. He was really good with advice and quite a good teacher; he taught me to drive a manual transmission car in about 10 minutes. His response when I didn’t stall it was, “well great, I think we’re done here”. He got to soccer games, piano recitals and ballet performances as often as he could. I don’t think he agreed with all the decisions I made (ok I know he didn’t) but he always trusted me to work it out. Man oh man was he proud of us kids and he always made sure my sister and I knew it.
He often fell asleep in the chair before going up to bed and I could hear him snoring from my room which was above the living room. It was like a chainsaw. Seriously loud. I knit him a blanket one year for Christmas. He called it the magic blanket because whenever he sat in his chair underneath it, he immediately fell asleep. Truth be known, it had nothing to do with the blanket, but I’m glad it kept him warm.
He was the BBQ master and I remember a few times he even shoveled a path in the snow to get from the kitchen door to the BBQ on the deck. London broil with butter and Worcestershire sauce, burgers on toasted English muffins, Yucatan chicken. He taught me how to cook fried eggs; no brown on the whites and runny yolks. Sandwiches made from leftovers meticulously built to ensure every bite was perfect. He was always happy to taste test an entire half of my sandwich in just one bite followed up by half my glass of milk. When I would give him “the look” he always responded with “I had to make sure it was safe for you to eat” or “I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t make you sick”. Eye roll dad. Eye roll.
My dad was away from home a lot for work but when he could, he would make lunch for my sister and me for school. We always knew when he made it because everything was wrapped in aluminum foil and we would always get a tiny packet of pickles (B&G Tiny Treats)! We loved the pickles.
As I got older I saw him a lot less. I was moving all around the country, but when I would come home for a visit dad was always at the airport to get me. He would always park and come in to greet me right outside security; the closest he was allowed to get to my arrival gate. There were a couple years I was lucky to get home for Christmas because of the snow. Didn’t matter how bad the roads were, if that plane was landing he was going to be there! No fail he was standing right there. I could usually hear him before I could see him, “Loona! Loona Doon!” (And that’s how he spelled it too. Makes me think it was after the Loon rather than the Spanish for moon but I don’t really know…..) There was always fresh coffee in the morning, fake language snippets throughout the day (if only I could figure out how to spell the words) and conversations about “Hootsie and Tootsie”. Family dinners in the evening complete with speedy fake knife skills from him when we weren’t looking and he would just hit the knife against the board rapidly and say “cut it up…. cut it up” over and over. Scrabble, Phase 10, Skip Bo, Gin Rummy and Pick and Hold at night after dinner.
One thing (of many) we looked forward to every summer was the couple/few weeks we got the best vine ripened, fresh garden tomatoes. The smell when you sliced them open was just divine! Earthy, and fruity. To us it smelled like summer. Sliced tomato salad with red onion and vinaigrette, tomato sandwiches with mayo, thick tomato slices on burgers, or just tomato slices on a plate and on occasion these cream cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. White bread was the perfect choice, cream cheese spread just thick enough and cold crisp lettuce. Maybe just a little salt and pepper on the tomato to just bring it to the next level. Tomatoes were NEVER refrigerated. Always at room temperature.
Best sandwich. I have one every now and then and I ALWAYS think of my dad when I make one. So here you go, a little piece of my dad. The cream cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I don’t think I need to give you a recipe but do give it a try. Maybe when you eat it, it will remind you of the time I told you a little story about a pretty awesome dad.