Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
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L is for Lyall, Not Lyle

Filed under: Dad,Family — folkcat at 11:55 am on Monday, June 19, 2006

L is for Lyall, not Lyle,
Whose last name is Squair, not Squire.

He’s my Dad.

My Dad
L is for Lyall

This picture shows him as I knew him most of my life. Dressed in a 3-piece suit, gray hair (he went gray fairly young), glasses and a pipe. It was taken at a political fundraiser in Syracuse many years ago – he’s been involved in Republican politics in Syracuse as long as I’ve ever known. So this image actually sums up an awful lot of what I know about my Dad.

There were other parts of Dad, too. He was a librarian, first in local schools, and then serving as the archivist for an engineering firm for several decades until he retired. He was Dad to me, my brother Ed, and my sister Kathy. He was also a dad to two other kids from his first marriage, my half siblings Steve and Susie, who visited us for a week or two every year.

He and my mom didn’t have a lot of money, but they always tried to find special things for us three kids to experience as we grew up. One such special memory is when I turned 15. It was 1975. I was not one of the popular kids at school, and I didn’t really have any friends in my neighborhood, either. My parents did make an effort to help me experience “normal” things.

1975 was the year that a rock festival, The Great American Music Fair, came to Syracuse. My parents actually bought me tickets for my birthday, and my father took me to the fair.

Most 15 year olds would be mortified to say that their Dad took them to a rock concert. But there was A), no way they’d have let me go alone, and B) I was a shy kid with no friends, and as much as I would have enjoyed the show, I would have been very much out of my element at the fairgrounds and in that crowd.

My father was an amazingly good sport that day. We went early. We moved around the stadium a few times, as a mid-day downpour drenched the seating on the field and we took shelter under the roof in the stands. We both watched in amusement as folks wandered around, openly offering “free tadpoles” (which appeared to be very short, sample-size joints).

We listened to bands like Jefferson Starship, the Beach Boys, the Doobie Brothers, and America, among others. If my memory is accurate, I believe that Ian Anderson also appeared with Jefferson Starship, riffing on his flute behind a huge, plastic tarp they put out to protect the stage from the deluge.

My Dad’s been retired for a number of years now. His health has forced him to give up the pipe and cigars, and he hasn’t smoked for a while. I worry now and again about the fact that he and Mom are all the way in Syracuse, and I can’t be there to help with driving Dad to the doctor’s office or to his meetings and campaign events. Mom winds up with a lot on her shoulders, taking care of both Dad and helping with my sister, Kathy, who has MS.

Ah, well. A day late for Father’s Day, but there he is. We may not always have had a perfect life, but my parents, and my Dad particularly, always made an effort to give us rich experiences.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.