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Dad, I Remember… (Today would have been his birthday.)

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Dad, I Remember…

(This is a portion of a letter I wrote to Dad when I was in my early 40’s. I left out the personal part at the beginning, but wanted to share the memories with you.)

Gleason Reunion (64)

Dad,

Please allow me the privilege of thinking back… with my pen helping me… to a few of the times that you took me by the hand and walked with me, your only son, down “Memory’s Lane”. I’ll not attempt to display all of memory’s treasured trophies; maybe I’ll even forget to point at the biggest and best. It’s not that the unmentioned aren’t important – to the contrary! It just proves, one more time, that no child could ever fully tell how much his parent(s) mean to him!! What is important is that we share memories with those we love.

I remember…

  • When Mom made that wire recording we sent to you while you were gone evangelizing. Mom told me to talk to you and then sing. I told you I loved you, I missed you and that I was praying for you. I then sang two songs, mixed up both up into one somehow! Ha! (Portland – age 4)
  • The time you took me “out” to whip me because I’d misbehaved in church. But I talked you out of it by saying, “Daddy, I love you!”
  • The day you stopped the car in the “middle of nowhere”, and with a knowing look to mom said, “I’m going to see a man about a dog”. I, in innocent eagerness, called to you out the window … “Daddy, I want a St. Bernard!”
  • My first “Bike”! You brought it home in a big box, took it into the back yard of our home in Riverside and put it together. It was red and I still consider it to be one of the best mountain bikes! I sure was proud!
  • When you’d call me over to you, and you sat in a comfortable chair, and then have me hold up your leg. Sometimes in my hands. (But when they got too heavy, sometimes the shoulders always were the right height!)
  • Riding in that Old Auburn antique car!
  • Mom riding around and around the house on your motorcycle.(She didn’t know how to stop it!) And you and Uncle Stan laughing and trying to tell her how to stop.) Mom just said Uncle Stan showed her how to make it go… but she never waited to finish the lesson. She wound up running into a fence to stop it!
  • My first motorcycle ride. I rode behind you on the luggage rack. You had folded up your sweater to make it more comfortable. I sure enjoyed the ride, but did I ever have a sore bottom!
  • Your coming back to 711 Polk, Oregon City. (from Yakima?) Seems like it was near Christmas, or some holiday. Anyway, I recall you opening the car door and carrying in bunches of apples – with everybody excited, talking and helping you carry them in.
  • Packing the back seat level in the old blue Nash, so all of us kids could sleep while we drove.
  • Walking with you through Anaheim High School as you made the rounds as  a night watchman. You even let me punch the clock. In one room, you let me sit in a desk – my feet never touched the floor. I couldn’t imagine ever being big enough to go to high school.
  • You working on the Plymouth in front of the house in Baytown, Texas and me hanging over the side, watching you. Then, our several trips, afoot, to buy more parts at the Western Auto. You told folks your car was a 1941 Western Auto.
  • The first house we lived in, in Columbus, Indiana. It was an apartment. You told us that the landlord counted how many times we flushed the toilet. We were to flush only when necessary!
  • In Anaheim, the night Eisenhower was voted in. You sat by the radio, with pen and paper and added up the votes. That was before computers. Seems like you stayed up till 2 or 3 am.
  • The day you bought your first new car, a Hudson, and took us all for a ride. (Riverside)
  • The day you gave me my first gun – a .22! –Brother! – was I ever happy and proud!
  • Going fishing with you and Brother Bennett…(we lived in Hope, IN) at a catfish pond. I caught my first fish on Brother Bennett’s pole, while he was at the concession stand!
  • When I’d been sick and you made me a big kite – 6’x 4’ – made out of a light crepe paper, with real heavy fishing line for string. When we took it out to fly it, the wind really picked me up on my tip-toes. Boy! that was the biggest kite a kid could have. I don’t recall ever again, seeing one that big! “They don’t make ‘em like they used to!”
  • In Columbus, one Christmas you asked me if I’d give my bicycle to my sister. (You bought me a new 3-speed). We went to the basement, and sawed off the top cross bar, lowered it, and painted it red.
  • In Richmond – getting a train for Christmas. You played with it for the longest. (To make sure it was working right!)
  • Also in Richmond, after a return from a trip, giving me a book, and censoring it page by page – scribbling out any slang words with a black crayon.
  • During Columbus days- Shooting your gun (.250-3000 was it?) or 300 savage? – anyway, I leaned up against a tree. The gun butt and my little shoulder got acquainted in a hurry.
  • The time in Albany, Oregon when I went up with Turney on my first piper cub ride. You looked at us in the plane, and then said to Uncle Orion, “Well, he was a good boy”.
  • The drunk in the Yakima church.
  • Picking apples together, all day one day on a ‘Migrant Farm Workers’ farm.
  • Bringing me an apple home from Libby’s cannery that was as big as a grapefruit.
  • The time in Yakima, when you hugged mom real big in front of us kids, and held her while you sang to her the popular song of the year, “Sugar Time”. (Sugar in the mornin’, sugar in the evenin’, sugar at supper time…)
  • The times you used to ask me if I wanted to hear a funny noise. (If the answer was yes, a playful pinch or knuckle squeezin’ warranted a good loud “funny noise”.)
  • Hearing you (and mom) pray for God to save your boy!
  • National City! When we had no money for gas, nor anything to eat but beans. When we walked several miles to that P.A.W. church, only to find no service that night. On the way back, stopping by that bakery’s exhaust fan and inhaling that wonderful smell. We just grinned at each other until our eyes watered. You said, “I believe I could gain 5 pounds just standing here!”
  • Your remarks and expressions of happiness when I told you I had just received the Holy Ghost.
  • When we were pulling that 35’ trailer with a 66 Ford, 6 cycle, no electric brakes, going down the Rocky  Mountains. You had me hold the car in 2nd gear, so it wouldn’t jump out into neutral!
  • Overhauling that Nash Metropolitan. We had a whole bunch of bolts and nuts left over, in a coffee can!
  • You taking me to get my California’s “Permit”, and me actually driving home – in that Metro- with you beside me.
  • The night in Vista I got my thumb stuck in that drum you’d bought me. You put liquid soap on my thumb. It never came loose until the choir sang, when I stood up in the back row, after about a minute or two. then it fell off and rolled down off the platform!
  • Our last night in Vista, building the sides on the utility trailer, and painting it silver.
  • The last time we had a foot race, and you beat me?
  • Our last arm wrestling match, when you “retired” undefeated!
  • The day you gave me my first set of shaving needs- safety razor, blades, and shaving cream- Boy!- was I ever “growed” up!
  • The way you beamed proudly at me on my graduation day – even though you’d braved the emotion packed day – Beverly’s funeral, mom sick in bed, and a special church service in progress at our church, you still came. Thank-you!
  • The time I called you and told you that I was in jail in Nebraska! You later said that you didn’t know if you should laugh, cry, or horse-whip me!
  • The day you put X’s and O’s on the back of a girl friend’s letter… as a practical joke (and, to find out my reaction- ha!)
  • You gave me my first camera – an Argos C-3.
  • When I called from Louisiana, broke and spending part of my last $5.00 in a phone booth, and you said if I starved to death and died, you’d build me a monument bigger than George Washington’s… because I’d be the first man that God ever let down!
  • Oh, yah! The day when you asked me if I felt the call to preach. When I said, “Yes”, you took me to the church, had me get up behind the pulpit, open my Bible (without looking) point to a passage, read, then you said, “Okay, now preach”. When I couldn’t, you had me sit down, then you showed me “how” – ha!
  • In Fort Worth, when we talked about Marcia. I’d asked you to talk to me, not only as my father, but as my best friend. I wanted to know your opinion of my marrying her. We prayed together, hugged each other’s necks, then I made a long telephone call and a long drive to see her!
  • My wedding day! The Father and Son talks. The look in your eye as you pronounced us man and wife!
  • Laughing at mom trying to walk (purple coat and all) on our U.P. hunting trip. Mom said she had a scarf on her head, a long purple coat, an orange hunting vest, brown boots, rangefinders and gloves! She said you guys laughed so hard at her, that you fell on your knees in the snow!
  • The time we got lost for 2 hours in the snow storm and couldn’t find mom on her mountain deer stand– and promised each other not to tell her. (and didn’t for several years)
  • Your letting me drive for you to your speaking engagements. Was I ever proud!
  • The way you put your arm around me and with a beam of pride, we looked together at your first grandchild, (grandson), and your name sake.
  • Our hunting trips – Wyoming and Canada.
  • The night of the bear attack!
  • My first antelope, shot with your gun!
  • The times you told me you were proud of me!
  • The first time you “slipped” and called me “Doc” – I realized you no longer subconsciously regarded me as a boy, but as a fellow laborer!
  • Going down the road in the car, and you asked my advice about an important church problem. That you had asked me, overwhelmed me. And then I thought you probably already knew what you’d do, but you wanted to know how I would react!
  • The night you ordained me and gave me Your Bible!
  • The famous hunting trip with you, mom, Cavaness, Jordan, Buie and me. What a time!
  • The times of correction, and later the hugs of love and forgiveness.
  • Your way of talking to me when I needed it, had a way of melting me, even when I was filled with polite stubbornness, and didn’t want to cry. It was no use, the tears came anyway. Thank-you for being able to reach ‘thru’ to me!!
  • Your washing my feet during “Communion and Foot-washing”.
  • Your telling me that you loved me.
  • In Utah, when you were throwing away some books, and I picked them up. You told mom, “Marty’s a Junker!” ha!
  • Your taking your son to Disney World for a thrill of his young life (ha!) – age 30
  • The Bahamas voyage!
  • The first time I preached in your new church in Sulphur, LA.
  • Visiting your new home there.
  • Our first Christmas together as a family, since I had been married.
  • The…..

If we look in the right direction, Dad, there’s no end to Memory’s Lane!

I may not have always been good company, but I’ve sure enjoyed the walk!!!

Love, your son,

Marty

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 6, 2014 at 7:51 am

Posted in Family

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3 Responses

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  1. Thank you dear friend for this personal blog. It left a tear in my eye, lump in my throat, & a smile on my lips.
    At our first meeting years ago God spoke to me and said “the wisdom of the Father in on the Son.” The Spirit compelled me to share that with you & you were immediately touched by those few words.
    I thank God for the blessing the Ballestero family have been to our family & church family through the years. God bless & provide your every need.

    geraldada

    December 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

  2. I agree with Bishop Adams, this also left a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat and a smile on my lips. I pray I can be a “Father” to my children!

    Matt Coomer

    December 7, 2014 at 2:27 pm

  3. This was such an emotion packed blog. I’ve laughed, cried, and smiled over some of these nuggets of memories you’ve generously shared. I’ve loved reading it. Thank you. (I miss him so much!)

    Nila Marxer

    December 8, 2014 at 1:32 am


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