My Dad

In spite of the Hallmark card nature of Father’s Day, I am glad to have a day to think about my dad and his qualities that I hope are flowing in my veins as well.

ray mooreMy father was crazy about politics. Although he made his living as a stock broker in Seattle, he always had his hand in a campaign, supporting a candidate, advocating for civil rights, the end of the death penalty, better treatment of animals, and a host of other passions. And when he retired he ran for, and was elected to, multiple terms as a state senator in Washington state. He was, as he said, “in hog heaven,” wheeling and dealing on behalf of the underdog.

I was lucky to grow up in this environment, where voting was not just a right but a thrill, where democracy was attainable, where all you had to do was get in there and participate, and things would be better. There are moments when I go into the polling booth with such reverence, I tear up. I am so moved by this simple act of individual power, by the hope that it represents. (This is not the place to dwell on what might have gone wrong, or be going wrong…)

My father lived to 91 and on every birthday, except that last one, he declared, “This year was the best year of my life!” He was the most “glass half full” person I have ever known. He suffered from macular degeneration which robbed him of his sight. He was left with some peripheral vision, but when he focused on something it was like a black hole. He could read on a reading machine if he dialed the font size up to about 60. It took him forever, but he plodded along, letter by letter.

He lived in Hawaii those last 15 years where he planted 300 coffee coffee cherrytrees in the back yard. He loved to pick the coffee cherries, which are first green, then yellow, and finally when they are ripe, bright red. Even in the last couple of years when he could hardly find his way out to the orchard, he would take his seat in an old plastic lawn chair in front of a tree and declare, “Isn’t it great!!?? I can see the ripe ones – they’re bright red,” and he would reach up toward the color.

When I despair that my hearing is beginning to fail me, or some other sign of aging, I think about my dad, out there in the orchard. He didn’t grumble that he could hardly see anything; he rejoiced that the cherries were red.

May we all be able to find that thing to rejoice in.

18 thoughts on “My Dad

  1. This was beautiful–much better than a Hallmark card. Thank you for introducing to a great man with a great message for today or any day. There is always something to rejoice.

    1. Thank you, Jessica, and how nice to hear from you. My love to you, and a happy father’s day to Jim — another great man for sure.

  2. Lucy. That’s just a lovely memoir. You must agree that you take after him. My father died in 1987 and I miss him every day. I’m happy that I’m more like him than I am my mother. Tho’ that’s a hard call. Thanks. Maybe I’ll put something together on my blog too, about my Dad. I hadn’t thought about it, but you have reminded me about something very important. We would not be the women we are, without them.

    1. I would love to know more about your dad. Please do write. All I know is that you did not see enough of either parent, given your “exile” to boarding school in England at such an early age. As for mothers and daughters….I think that is the most challenging of all possible relationships. Maybe I will get my nerve up some day and tackle that one on my blog!

  3. Lucy, I only met Ray a few times but what you say about him is so true. I remember him talking politics and a “glow” would come over him as he voiced his enthusiasm for this or that topic or person. You are definitely your father’s daughter in so many ways. You have certainly inherited his passion for doing good in the world and seeing the best in everyone. I know he was always so proud of you.

    1. Thanks, Linda, for the kind words. And I’m so sorry that my dad isn’t around today. I try to imagine what he would say of the current political state….the last political drama he saw was the election of Arnie as governor of California, and that blew his mind. What would he say today??

  4. Thanks for your post. I’m about to reach my 80th birthday and have been depressed for weeks thinking about all the bleak possibilities of old age and infirmity. Making things even worse is the fact that I come from long-lived stock where living to 90 and beyond is not unusual. I admit that I have been looking around for “exit strategies,” and wish they were more easily attainable and less messy. If they were, I would not be writing to you today. But perhaps in the time I have left I can still learn to look for the ripe coffee berries.

    1. Luis — it’s hard to adopt someone else’s attitude. My dad was lucky and I was lucky to see him age so gracefully. But here’s another thought: We had the most wonderful dog named Buddy Dingo. We had rescued him from the median one rainy night a few years ago, traffic whizzing by on both sides of him. No one claimed him at the shelter and he became ours. He eventually was hit by a truck he was chasing, leading the pack of his canine friends, out in front, having a great time, and bang, that was it. I was devastated, but I didn’t forget the great lesson he taught me. For him, every day was simply amazing. Every meal was the best, to be gobbled with joy, every bone was the finest, even better than the last, every walk spectacular, even if it was the same walk as yesterday. I know this is a spiritual belief (Buddhism?) to live in the moment, but for me Buddy Dingo was my master and teacher, and I am grateful to him. You are welcome to join me as one of his followers.

  5. A wonderful story about your dad on this Father’s Day Lucy. I wish I met him. He shines in you…. thanks for sharing. Happy Father’s Day Ray Moore.
    I remember the beautiful back yard with all the coffee trees — and love the coffee.

    1. Thanks, Ella, and so glad you got to enjoy his late-in-life passion. He also fed his political addiction by registering voters on the Big Island. He and his friend Jimmy Oto, a local Hawaiian and equally ancient as my dad, drove around in a voter registration van all over the island, stopping at coffee shops and bars, wherever anyone was gathered and ready to talk politics. They had a great time.

  6. I am so lucky to be serving toast to el viejo almost 102.
    Please come out this week as the cherries at the farm are the best ever, and much sweeter even than coffee beans.
    Peace and Love

  7. Dear Lucy,

    I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your Father’s day blog about your Dad. He sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.
    I never really got to know my Dad like you did. My dad passed away at age 50 of a heart attack. I was actually on a senior high school trip in New York when it happened – the day before Easter, 1960. My Dad took me to the bus, said goodbye, and that was the last time I saw him alive. I think a boy never really gets to know his Dad until he leaves home, and realizes some of those lessons he was trying to teach you were so very important. Dad must have been a really good person, because for many years after, people would come up to me on the street, and tell me what a classy guy he was.
    One thing I do remember happened in the 1950’s when the sit ins and protests began in the South. As you might remember, I grew up in a segregated society – separate schools, water fountains, etc. I can remember my Dad saying he though it was a shame that black people could not go into a restaurant to eat with the white people. That statement, to me, says everything about him. I never got the segregation thing anyway. We used to play basketball with the black kids down the street from us, and could never figure out what the big deal was. I do remember the vitriolic feeling and statements from people I knew. We have come so far – but still have far to go.

    Jeff

    1. It’s so wonderful to get a glimpse of your father, Jeff. I think we get insights into each other, and ourselves, when we think about those qualities of a parent that stick with us through the decades. I’m glad you shared your memories.

  8. Lucy, A beautiful moving piece you have written. Thank you. Having known Ray since I was 16 till he died, I can truly say that noone has had a greater impact on my life than he.
    I still catch myself using some of his one liners, often resulting in quizzical looks to whomever I am speaking. Just the other day I was regaling a group at dinner with a Ray story resulting in masses of laughter. And yes, I often wonder what his one liner comments about todays politics would be. Amusing and interesting at least.
    Love to you always.
    Olav

    1. Dearest bro — you are the closest thing to a sibling that I have ever had. Thanks so much for your reminiscences. Glad that Ray and his stories still live on! love, Lucy

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