Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memorium


Since it is Memorial Day, I thought I'd do a post on my dad.

James Benjamin Freeman Davis was born in Detroit on Halloween, 1941. He was the second of two children to James Hutt and Grace Emogene Davis, also deceased. His older sister Tamar now resides in Florida.

My earliest memories of my dad were of him working. Dark green coveralls. Hands black with grease from the car engine. Sliding under the car on one of those thingees you lay on to slide under a car. (As you can see, I inherited my dad's attention to detail and love of mechanics.) I also remember him working outside, rototilling the garden, cleaning out the storm drains in the church parking lot next to our house so that they would drain properly. No, it wasn't his job. He just saw that it needed to be done, and did it.

My dad was always a jokester. He had a pun for every occasion. We had an on-going game of tag, the two of us, that lasted from about 1986-1990. One of us would suddenly tag the other one and we would race all over the house trying to tag each other back. We'd wear out eventually, and the game would pick up spontaneously a few hours later. He never got tired of telling us funny stories or tickling us to make us laugh (or throwing june bugs on our fuzzy pajamas to make himself laugh.)

Another thing my dad was really good at was making everyone feel special. Although a rather quiet person, he always went out of his way to give people compliments or ask them about themselves. His favorite was to ask people about their last names. Where did they come from? People always opened up to my dad because he was a great listener, and they could tell he was sincere in wanting to know their family history.

My dad was awesome at making about 3 things to eat: Macaroni and cheese with extra cheddar added in, chicken and rice soup, and waffles with blueberry syrup. He made fresh squeezed lime-ade too. He liked his hamburgers with mustard and onions only. His favorite snack was clubhouse crackers with cream cheese and grape jelly. He taught me to eat vanilla ice cream with pure maple syrup on it. I still love all those things. And Dad never cheaped out on us when we went out to eat. We could have whatever we wanted--fries on the side, a drink, even dessert. It was my dad who took me out for my first seafood dinner and introduced me to shrimp and orange roughy, two of my favorite foods to this day.

My dad could fix anything--leaky gutters, broken toasters, wobbly chairs, failing clothes dryers, even cars. People in the ward brought my dad their broken cars because he was smart enough and willing enough to help anyone out with car trouble. This backfired on me when I failed to put oil in my first car and burnt the engine out. Dad made me take the engine out myself--labeling each hose and wire with masking tape as I went so I could connect them again later--and doing all the work to repair the rods and bearings, complete with explanations of how each part worked. I wish I could remember any of that stuff.


I could go on and on about my dad. He was my best friend. He was a wonderful man--kind, generous, smart, funny, capable. Sure, he had faults. Like that two part mustache he wore during the 1970's. Or that time he got mad that my sister and I didn't clean out our drawers like we were supposed to so he dumped them on our beds at 12:30am and made us get up and organize them. And there was that time he poured a glass of cold water on my head to make me get up for school when I ignored him too many times. But even those things make me laugh now. He was just being a good dad. In his own Jim-like way.

In 1993, my dad had urgent surgery on his heart. He almost died on the operating table, but made it through to the ICU. There, his heart stopped again, and they were not able to resuscitate him. I was 3000 miles away at college and didn't get to say goodbye. I miss my dad to this day. But I am left with so many happy memories of who he was and the things he did for me and for others. Dad, I dedicate my blog today to you. I love you.

15 comments:

Tiburon said...

Aww what a sweet sweet tribute to your daddy.

Christie said...

What a sweet post. It totally made me cry!

Koreena said...

I enjoyed learning about your dad. He sounds like an awesome father to have.

CaraDee said...

Great post.

Mia said...

Those are some wonderful memories. Your Dad seems like he was a really great guy.

jennie w. said...

He also made really great sausage-lentil soup.

Jeanette Ekins said...

Great memories Ari. Your dad was a great man and I remember always laughing when he was around. I also remember the tag game! I still remember to this day when you called me to tell me that he had died. I know that he is missed everyday by your family and those that knew him. Have a good day. Love you.

Holly said...

That was really nice Arianne. A great tribute.

Mindi said...

what an awesome tribute to your dad--you know that he read it and approved.....even when you slammed the two-part mustache which could very well be my favorite line, ever.....
sorry you lost him, arianne--hope that your memorial day was beautiful!

Ben said...

I thought the same thing... Of all the food he could cook well, the sausage-lentil soup was the best. I remember that he'd make 3 gallons of it and we'd keep the leftovers in milk jugs in the fridge.

Thanks for helping me remember our dad. For all his faults, not least of which was leaving us too soon, I love him and miss him dearly.

I cursed him for years for making me help him overhaul the transmission on that white station-wagon, in a cold garage, laying on the cold cement floor, in Detroit, in the winter, with numb fingers that could barely hold the cold wrenches. I was only 13. I didn't work on cars for a decade after he died. But... I just spent the past week overhauling the front half of my engine, and took all the curses back, wishing every minute that he could be there to help, if for nothing more than to see that I really did learn what he was teaching me, and so he could be proud.

Sara said...

Really nice to learn more about your dad, i can't believe how much he looks like your brother!

Kristine said...

Wow Arianne, that is such a nice post about your dad. He sounds like he was a really cool guy!

Erica said...

Touching tribute Ari! I loved reading it. I remember your dad.

Kelli said...

Great blog! I loved it, and Ben really does look like your dad. Thanks for sharing.

alex dumas said...

I love orange roughy. And shrimp.