I have never, EVER been awake before him. As a kid, when I’d finally give in to the urge to go to the bathroom in the wee morning hours, he was always already awake and working on some project. He would see me shuffle by in my pjs and say, “Hey, Sis! Are you up for all day?”
I wasn’t. I was hoping to not be up for a few more hours, but nature had called and wouldn’t hang up. In my mind a bulging bladder was the only reason to ever be up before the sun.
If we ever surfaced past 7 a.m. we would inevitably hear, “Daylight’s burning,” or “You’ve slept the day away!”
Most of the time he made sure we didn’t sleep past seven. He liked stripping blankets off, pulling us out of bed by our ankles and holding us upside down or rubbing our faces with his whiskers.
Sometimes he would forget that most people who live in his time zone may not be extra extra early birds and he’d make phone calls. Because he’d already been up for hours he had a warped sense of what is a socially acceptable time to call people at home. I heard many phone conversations of his that started with, “Oh, did I get you out of bed? Well, since you’re up . . .”
While I truly admire that he is an early riser, I do sometimes question his predawn project choices.
My sister and I were home for Christmas break from college one year and had stayed up late yapping. We’d fallen asleep in the bedroom that was next to the garage.
On December 27th, about 5 a.m. I awoke to what sounded like the sirens used in World War II to alert communities to get in the bomb shelters. I wrapped up in a blanket and felt my way in the dark out to the frigid garage.
There was dad wearing his fluorescent orange hunting coveralls, camo earflap hat and goggles revving up a chainsaw.
“What in the world are you doing, Dad?”
“Sharpening my chainsaw.”
“Because it was dull.”
“It’s the middle of Christmas break, Dad, not to mention the middle of the night! What is it you need a sharpened chainsaw for? To chop down the Christmas tree in the living room?”
“I was up, the chainsaw was dull, so I was sharpening it. What?”
I tried to explain to him the science of sound waves, the properties of echo, the proximity of neighbors and what vacation time means for most people. It fell on deaf ears covered by wool flaps.
The early morning is not his only prime time for odd projects.
There was the Thanksgiving when my mother, grandmother, aunts and sisters and I were frantically working in the kitchen to prepare the feast when Dad decided to turn off the water and sprawl across the kitchen floor on his back to fix a pipe under the sink that had been leaking for months.
We’ve gone down many a “One Way” street with cars honking and heading straight for us while Dad casually answers our shrieks with, “What? I’m only going one way!”
On family vacations Dad made sure we were out and about by dawn looking in the windows of attractions and museums to see what we could before opening hours, which were usually a couple of hours away.
He buys a hat anywhere he visits, has a “How-to” book on every subject, bumps into someone he knows everywhere he goes, takes two pictures of everything and wore a permed fro past age 40.
He likes boiled raisin cake, a glass of milk with bread broken up in it, and he drinks pickle juice out of the jar.
If he’s buying new pants he tries on every pair in his size of the exact same pants before he chooses one because, “every pair fits just a little differently.”
No, life with Larry is never dull. In fact, I can’t imagine a world without him in it. I hope he has another 68 years to haggle with store clerks over the cost of a gallon of milk.
Happy Birthday Dad!