Still Dancing…2016

My father died on March 11, 2014.  March 11 also happens to be my birthday and as I consider birthdays past Dad’s smiling face is always there – always.

He could magically envision a dilapidated house in disrepair and have David (my brother) and myself renew it to a beautiful home once again, under his specifications of course.  My brother nor I nor anybody else I knew could do the things that Dad could do.

Dad never made millions in real estate though because instead of just fixing them up enough to sell for his profit…Dad would fall in love with each one.   He would turn the properties into doll houses that were pleasing to the eye.  He saw a beautiful, and wonderful world – through – kind, rose colored glasses.

His self-assuredness was a quality held in high esteem by me.  Dad was many things to many people but shy was not one of those things. Never have I seen a person with such integrity. I do not mean to say that he was a saint…not by any stretch of the imagination.  However, he was always true to himself and held tightly to his beliefs. Dad could not be swayed.  He listened to and respected everybody’s opinion before telling them they were wrong hahaha.

Dad was smart.   I don’t know where it came from, but he was as intelligent as anybody with a degree.  And he was super fast with all he attempted.  I remember a post accident afternoon when I returned from Inver Hills Community College; Dad had the guys dressing up the front of one his buildings and his friend, Tommy, was there.  

Tommy asked me, “Where are you coming from?”  

I told him and then he said, “Aren’t you smart enough yet?  You’re over thirty years old.”  It was a miracle that I was alive.  “Your dad was so smart he quit school in the eighth grade (Dad had to quit to help support their large family, seventeen in all)and you’re in your thirties and still trying to learn, give it up.”

I didn’t say anything because he was a good friend to Dad.  Dad wished that he could’ve gone to college and I wish that he would’ve also.  Then maybe he wouldn’t have been so tough on us kids for wanting a better education.  Dad was always so proud of our cousins who went on to a college or played sports but when it came to his kids…

Dad would get angry when we spoke of going to college and would say, “What d’ya wanna  go to college for (the time was in the late sixties and early seventies)  All ya’ learn how to do is smoke dope and protest!  The professors teach that shit to the kids”  End of subject.

I recall driving with Dad down the alley towards White Bear Avenue.  As we sat waiting for the cars to pass on the avenue I asked him a question.  It probably wasn’t a good time as we were on the lookout for my older brother who’d run away.  

I asked, “Dad could I join the Golden Gloves?” I thought that would make him proud.

Instead his reply was, “Aw Steve, what d’ya wanna do that for?  You’re a good-looking kid.  Ya’ start boxing and you’ll get a broken nose and cauliflower ears, you don’t wanna do that.”  But at the time it was exactly what I wanted to do.

Linda was smart and hid to go to school and she’s done well for herself.

Peggy did great at first being a secretary-receptionist and later a nurse…and eventually a fantastic day-care provider.   

Dad focused most of his energy on David and his family after my car wreck.  He created in David a wealthy man.  Nearly all he touched, well Dad had the “Midas Touch.”  

Dad did what he thought was right regarding, Fred.  And he always said usually in an angry tone, “That’s it – I’m not giving him anymore money,” but he always did.  Dad would tell me…”He can’t work.  What’s he gonna’ do? I’ll just try to take care of him the best I can until I die.”  

I remember working with him back in the eighties and during that time I had a home built in the country on some acreage and the place was furnished and decorated nicely.  We had a couple newer cars and a new truck.  Things that’s all, but at the time…must haves.  

Dad helped us all in one way or another and accomplished much.  I am and I always was proud of him.

My dad was a real superman to me!  He is sorely missed by all who knew him.  But you know what?  Now Mom and Dad are together in heaven awaiting the glorious reunion yet to come and I can’t wait to hear Dad singing  that Little Jimmie Dickens song  again…”Out Behind the Barn,” or maybe his spirit and Mom’s will be dancing to a polka or floating to the “Tennessee Waltz.”  

Until next year folks…..

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Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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