There are many instances when my thoughts go back to my childhood days, whether it’s a particular song, a letter or email from an old friend or coming across a bit of memorabilia. Since my dad’s passing fifteen years ago, every time I see a rainbow, I think of him. Every time I hear Barbra Streisand sing “People,” I think of him. Every time I eat broccoli, I think of him. That may sound like a strange combination of things to make me think of my father, but then my father touched me in many different ways.
Growing up with a dad who had all kinds of silly names for people and things, I’ve almost added them to my vocabulary as if they were accepted by Webster. He never called any of his kids by their given names, that is, except for my brother Richard. I still can’t figure out the stream of consciousness that got him from Judy to “Gnu,” but that’s what he called me. It was at one point Elsie Gnu, but then he just dropped the Elsie part.
He had nine grandchildren, and if he didn’t make up strange names for them, he just kind of mangled the names they were given. He called my son Maniel Dason. You figure it out. He called my daughter, Smudlyn. He called my nephew, Aaron Ocoggy. I have a niece named Yexis, and a nephew named Schmichael.
Dad wanted to know, “what are you didding?” It was, in a sense, his own vernacular for “whazzzzzup?” So much of this came rushing back to me in the past few weeks as my mother was sorting and packing her belongings to move to her new home. Pictures and mementos, letters and telegrams, collectibles and awards, everything that was Dad went into boxes for moving, selling, recycling, donation or throwing out.
Mom took along a beautiful photograph of my father that was taken when he served as the Chairman of the Board of Parkway Hospital, which is now Jackson North. I looked at the picture for a few moments and thought about the expression, “turnabout is fair play,” because when I eulogized Dad, I used all of the names with which people referred to him. As a kid, he was known as Ticky, and my Miller cousins knew him as Uncle Ticky. My Brecker cousins called him Muck. The guys at Citizens Crime Watch called him Smooth Blend- his CB handle. He was Mel. To our friends, he was Mr. T. He was Dad, or Daddy when I wanted something.
When Mom finally made the move last month, I was standing at the front desk in the lobby, next to a sign that said, “Welcome Jean Tecosky,” when a lady approached me and asked me if I was a Tecosky. I said I was, and she introduced herself as the daughter of Abe Tecot, my grandfather’s first cousin. She and my Dad were second cousins. All I could think of was that Dad would say, “What a co-ink-i-dink!”