The Fountain of Youth
By Anna Marie Rampmaier
I stubbed my tallman toe of my left foot, saw several star bursts and found the Fountain of Youth my dad taught to me as a young child. He was very indulgent of me. Even though by the time I arrived as the last child of his second family, he was already a half century plus old…older than my best friend’s grand father…but, oh!, he was so much younger. Dad worked from sunrise till after dusk. He drove East to work and on the joyful excursions when I accompanied him, sitting in the front seat with the blazing, rising sun nearly blinding us…but he always drove carefully, I was in his heavenly company, alone. I had him all to myself! And I drove him crazy with questions, observations and utter excitement. My dad was my first and BEST date! His patience and tolerance were boundless.
Before he left in the mornings he would take our tryst collie, Butterball out to the garden and brush her long luxuriant fur so mom wouldn’t have to vacuum dog hairs from the wool carpet. Those extra fifteen minutes could have been “sleeptime”, but my dad wanted to make my mom happy every way he could. And he did.
Just as I am about to burst out a litany of raucous curses because my toe is in agony, dad jumps me and I calm down, accept the predicament as a passing fury and smile. Every time you smile you add three seconds to your life! Dad took tragedy as it came and happiness as a bonus. He had “fudged” his age and fought with his own father in WWI as a cavalry officer. Imagine my horror realizing my beloved dad and my equally beloved uncle Tony, mom’s brother, who fought in the US Navy in WWI could have fought each other. Oh the horror of war, and the stupidity of it. They became as brothers and I learned to recognize an honorable husband, a noble brother and father in them and base my opinion of all men on their example of manhood.
Dad came to America and started a family only to have his wife and newborn die. This did not make him bitter or resentful. He gave generously of his time, talents and energy to all, especially children. Though he feared the ocean and didn’t know how to swim he waded into the surf at Jones Beach to rescue a drowning child. A drunk driver stole his second son he never went to work on Sunday again, reserving that entire day for family. Sunday at the beach was our vacation. The expression “leisure activities” never existed in dad’s world. His total focus was creating an atmosphere of happiness and security for his family. Security was not $$$$$ but love and his undivided attention. He taught me how to box!
My dad took me to work with him on Saturdays and riding home West, with the brilliant orange orb glaring at us was part of the wonder of the day I had spent with him. My “jobs” were dusting, chasing down snails and slicing infinitessimly slim slivers of Swiss Emmenthaler for myself. But it was the best job I’ve ever had and the pay was spending time learning a work ethic, loyalty, honesty , how to enjoy the beauty of life naturally. The flavor of that Swiss Emmethaler evokes happiness, my dad, love.
The wonder of a lightning storm in the Eastern sky is something I learned to appreciate from my dad. The excitement of accomplishment of a menial task well done is a way to enjoy being alive. Here in the East end I have experienced the sky, the seashore, the shell fish, the sunlight I employ when I paint watercolors. Living here keeps my dad always with me. Annamarie Rampmaier 6317492322 Annamarie2322@gmail.com