When a little girl from a big family has brothers-in-law before she is even in elementary school, she has a tendency to look up to those brothers-in-law. That’s how it was for my Aunt Sandy Pattan. She was the youngest of nine children, and to her, the brothers-in-law were like her own brothers.
As a little girl, and knowing my uncles, I expect that she was often teased…good naturedly, of course, but she also watched the things that her brothers-in-law, and her brothers too, could do. They were, after all, grown ups, and therefore, considered cool. I’m sure that, if asked, Aunt Sandy could tell us all stories about the things she remembers about each of her brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, as well as her older siblings. In this case, however, it was me talking to Aunt Sandy when she told me about something that my dad could do, that while not something profound, was something that she, as a little girl, thought was very cool. The funny thing about it is that I don’t remember my dad doing it. Maybe it was just a passing trick, but it was one that Aunt Sandy has remembered all these years. Or maybe, my sisters remember it, even if I don’t.
A few weeks ago, when Aunt Sandy and I were completing a meeting to discuss the family stories that she remembered…a meeting that was meant to be about an hour or two, but turned into five hours, because we completely lost track of time…when she told me that one memory she had of my dad from when she was a little girl. It was a memory of my dad, Allen Spencer twirling a silver dollar through his fingers. Such a small thing, but something I could see my dad doing something like that. It would be a trick that quite possibly he and his brother, my Uncle Bill Spencer did. I’m sure they practiced it for hours to see who could do it better. I’m sure that soon it became second nature to him, and he probably did it without even thinking about it. Nevertheless, to my Aunt Sandy, it was something new and very cool. Cool enough, in fact that when she thinks of my dad, her brother-in-law, she can still see that trick clearly in her mind.
I can relate to that. My sisters and I, as well as the grandchildren and great grandchildren, all have memories of some of the funny and cool things Dad used to do. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that, in thinking about things Dad used to do, I can picture them so clearly in my mind that it is as if he is right there in the room. Things like the whisker rub, the kitchen door game, and pretend boxing matches in the hallway, come to my mind instantly. If I think longer, more and more memories of Dad come to my mind. It is the funny, happy memories that will mean the most to us in our latter days. They are the cherished memories in the days after our loved one’s passing.