“Wait Till Your Father Gets Home:”
Memories of my father
James L. Snyder
What triggers old memories?
I'm not sure what the answer to that question is but recently I had the shock of my life. I was in the bathroom shaving and glancing in the mirror, was startled to see my father staring back at me. What he was doing in my mirror still baffles me and why he chose to reflect himself at this particular time I will never know.
Blinking my eyes I looked again and sure enough what I had feared all my life happened. Right before my eyes I had become my father, which just goes to show how unfair life is. I mean, you spend your whole childhood trying not to be your father and when least expected … there he is in your bathroom mirror.
I no sooner adjusted to becoming my father when I distinctly heard my mother, “Wait till your father gets home.”
That reawakened memories I had long forgotten and for good reason.
One thing I distinctly remember about my father was that he was a firm believer in “spare the rod, spoil the child.” He was so committed to not spoiling his children that he had a spare rod in his closet for emergencies.
Dad’s belief in discipline was seen in the paddle hanging by the front door inscribed with these words from his favorite hymn, “I need thee every hour.”
To this day I don’t know if it was the Lord we needed or the paddle but you can be sure we needed one or the other every hour, on the hour.
By the time I was ten years old I didn’t know what would wear out first; Dad’s paddle or its soft target.
Dad prefaced each paddling with, “Son, this is going to hurt me more than it does you.” I’ve often wondered where.
I can still hear mom’s warning; “Wait till your father gets home,” meaning of course we were in for some punishment from dear ole Dad. My siblings and I would much rather have a switching from our father, which only lasted a moment, than listen to our mother’s threats which seemed to last all day long.
I can imagine Dad dreading to come home knowing the task awaiting him upon arrival. At times I’m sure he didn’t know why he was dishing out the promised punishment. His orders came from a higher source – Mom.
Sometimes he confused his orders and spanked the wrong child. I guess the law of averages evened the score for us. Once, in some confusion, he spanked a visiting neighbor who in turn went home and told her husband. It made for an exciting evening for us children. All we needed was popcorn.
Dad did, as I fondly remember, try to help out around the house. Although not a “Mr. Mom,” he did the best he could. Once I remember mom came home and caught Dad washing the dishes in the bathtub with Mr. Bubble. Thankfully, it wasn’t with Mrs. Bubble.
Mom was away for several days giving Dad opportunity to run the house. He thought about surprising Mom by cleaning the house … doing the laundry … making the beds. But, he didn’t, after all, it’s the thought that counts and Dad was counting on that. So was Mom.
Around our house Dad was infamous with his culinary capers. For years I did not know people did not make macaroni and cheese in the frying pan. In fact, if Dad could get it in the frying pan it was on the supper menu that evening. He invented the, “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy.
Then there was the time Dad got Mom her first micro-wave oven. The next evening Dad made exploding hot dogs in the micro. How could so little explode into so many pieces?
The amazing thing about Dad’s cooking was, no matter what he cooked it all tasted like chicken, except his chicken.
Upon reflection, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to become your father. Possibly it’s the way things must be. If I could be half the man my father was I would be twice the father I am right now.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is an award winning author and popular columnist living with his wife, Martha, in Ocala, Florida and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.