Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad

Louie was a great guy. I think I can say that nearly everybody loved him.  Jim Reeves sang a song, "A Stranger's Just a Friend you do not Know"  I'm not sure, but I think maybe whoever wrote that song knew my dad and had been inspired by him.

Dad was born in 1920.  He was one of eight children, second to the youngest-- the youngest son.  He grew up on a farm where the fiddle and guitar were played on the front porch on summer evenings, and an organ played in the front room on winter evenings.  

They lived by their hands, surviving on what they grew on the farm. He grew up during the depression, drove a horse and buggy to town, and to church every Sunday.  He wore mended clothes and knew that not a single tree in their orchard grew money.

And dad lived through mechanizing the farm--the great change from horse-drawn to gas powered. It was a change he initiated and saw through after his dad passed away.

He was brilliant; one of his greatest sorrows--perhaps it was more shame, was that he was forced out of school at the end of his eighth grade. His teacher begged my grandma to allow him to remain in school, but grandma refused. She needed him on the farm.  Everyone else was working, in school, or gone.

When WWII started, he went to the enlistment office in Pittsburgh and signed up to go defend his country.  When he told grandma, she found a ride to Pgh and "un-enlisted" him, explaining that her husband was gone, her three older sons were all marrried and gone, and she needed my dad to help her with the farm.

When the railyards in Pgh hired him, and he planned to stay in Pgh through the week, she went to the railyards and got him "un-hired". 

No matter how he tried, he could never slip the yoke of that old farm out in the "hollow" as he called it.

So, he married my mom--a young RN from a tiny company town in a neighboring county, a "city gal with an education" as grandma referred to her, and set out to have eight children of his own. 

Like in all lives, he had good times and bad. Mom and he stood beside each other through all of them--well, except for when she gave birth to each of us, and he dropped her off at the Emergency Room entrance and told her, "Call me when you're ready to come home."

He loved people, loved life, and was grateful for the small things.

He openly adored my mother, and loved his children and grandchildren.

Didn't matter the time of year. He'd step outside and look around, then say, "I love to see the changing seasons."  He'd step outside on the coldest day of winter and with a twinkle in his eye, say, "Brrrrr."  And when it started to snow, he'd come in from outside and tell us "It'll be Christmas by morning."  He yearned for the peepers when winter was making its last gasps, marveled at trilliums and trailing arbutus when they bloomed. And autumn? He was in his glory.  We all knew that Louie Cypher lived in the prettiest place ever--especially when autumn colored the leaves like Joseph's coat.

Hershey's fudge, cinnamon hardtack, molasses taffy, and homemade black walnut ice cream.  Chopping the ice from the "crick" with an axe--to make the icecream.  Rescued baby pigs squealing on the hearth in the middle of a bitterly cold January night.  ~sigh~  A few of the things I'd never have experienced if he hadn't been my dad.

He taught us about love, about appreciation, about seeing the joy.

He was a character.  He was a wounded child and a tough adult at the same time. 

Most of all, he taught an amazing lesson.  For all the things that could have made him a horribly bitter person, he wasn't.  

All of the stonewalls built in front of him during his youth were bygones. He had taken lemons and made beautiful lemonade out of them.  And it wasn't bitter at all.

Remembering you today... Happy  92nd birthday, dad.  <3


  1. What a lovely story and tribute to your dad.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! I've been trying to write this for years... :-)

  2. What a great tribute to your dad. And what a rich life he shared with you and your siblings, and that you've shared with us. I can picture the life so clearly. I also have distant relatives in Indiana who shared some of that life back then: small farms with wells, sitting on the porch with lemonade or ice tea in the evenings, watching fireflies. Your post brought that all back. Your dad also sounds like such a wonderful person with abundant resources inside that he passed on. Thanks for the share.

  3. Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth! My mind often walks back that old memory lane when I have time. Sometimes I wonder, when reading the work of other authors, who the characters must have been in their lives--to have inspired snippets of this and that in their fictional personalities. :-)

  4. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. And I can tell from your words how much you love him. He sounds a lot like my Dad. Also second to last of eight children, raised in the depression on a farm, dropped out school to help on the farm after all his brothers went to fight in WWII. After reading your post, I saw a lot of the same character in your Dad that I saw in mine. I know you must miss him as much as I miss mine.

  5. Wow, Denise, the similarities of their lives are uncanny! I hope...whatever lies beyond this life is a sentient existence. And our dads are rewarded for their sacrifices. :-) Thanks so much for visiting and giving this a read. :-)

  6. Wonderfully written tribute to your dad, Teresa. I must admit I'm envious. I didn't have a father growing up. He split from my mom when I was 8 and didn't have much to do with me after. These memories you bring to life, they strike me right at the heart. I hope that I was a good enough father, that someday, my kids will have as fond of memories of me as you have of your dad.

    Beautiful post. I wish him a Happy Birthday as well. I know that he is proud of the amazing writer his daughter has become. ;)

  7. Thanks, M.L. I've never understood how a parent can walk away from a child. I am sorry that you didn't have him in your life. The father of my first two children walked out of our lives when they when they were 6 months old and 2 years old. I've begun to understand that he was most likely sick--I suspect bipolar disorder which he self-medicated with alcohol. No matter, he was an alcoholic, and to the best of my knowledge, still is. Perhaps they were better off in some ways for his absenteeism. But...there will always be that pain for them, that sense of... I can't explain it, but am sure that you well understand that for which words fail me.

    My dad was one of a kind for sure. It sometimes cracks me up at how some of his apples fell right beneath his tree, and some of them, well, maybe someone stuck them on the end of an apple branch and flung them a half acre away ;-) Ha...the differences in siblings.

    The fact that you wrote that you hoped you were a good enough father leads me to believe that you were/are a wonderful dad. I know we all have doubts--some of us have regrets about our parenting years. But in the end, if they tell you they love you, and can look back at their childhood and smile--you know you did some things right.

    And, you know, they still don't hand out owner's manuals with children ;-)

    Thanks for visiting...so glad to see you out and about. :-)