Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pancakes Pop

My dad was a blue-collar mechanic who worked long and hard hours for a building demolition company in Chicago. Since he usually worked six days a week, Sunday was our one, quality Day with Dad. Sunday/Dad’s Day was enhanced for me when he made us pancakes.

By way of contrast, my mom was a beautician—as opposite as you could get. While she was making people pretty, Dad had all he could do to scrub the grease off himself from his literally dirty work.

Both were very nurturing, but Dad gave most of his TLC in a traditionally male way—acting as household handyman, fixing our cars, doing lawn work, and speaking words of encouragement. After all, this was the 1950s where women were women and men were men.

Yet when Dad broke ranks with that rigid role model and made us pancakes, it really stood out for me. There was something much bigger going on than the fact that they tasted great! He was a one-trick cook, but those flapjacks were downright magical.

Looking back as a seasoned adult, I finally understand. It was the mere act of getting out of his comfort zone, giving my mom a break, and being flexible in showing his love that make the pancakes so fantastic. This is the same guy who would joke, dripping irony (and maybe a little grease), “I’ll do your hair,” when our any member of our otherwise all-female household was having a bad hair-day. All I could envision was my hair set on bolts and screws, the tools of his trade.

Love does whatever is called for, gives in whatever way is needed at the moment—and at Sunday breakfast, pancakes and fatherly love merged into one symbol of flexible and unconditional love. Whether it was watching him flip them (he was good!) or tasting the yummy results, pancakes and maple syrup will always be my sweet Dad to me in an unforgettable communion of continuity.


Photo: Dad in 1980

Thanks to Betty Lynch of
My Country Kitchen for prompting this memory by asking for “dads in the kitchen” stories.


PopArtDiva said...

My Dad used to make pancakes for the family too but he was better at cobblers! Dad was an executive with the Boy Scouts of America and spent many weeks and weekends at cookouts for her work. As a result he was a pretty decent cook!

But those cobblers he made in dutch ovens over an open fire were the best!

Thanks for sharing your memory and bringing back one of my own!

Eileen Williams said...

Your lovely tribute to your dad brought tears to my eyes. My own father, from the same age and set of gender rules, used to do a similar thing. However, his forte was waffles. He had his own waffle maker (which my mother never touched) and would often treat us on Saturday nights with a dinner of pure starch and sugar. Of course, we all loved it and would often dine on TV trays in front of Perry Mason. I"ll never forget the time I was able to figure out the clues and identify the real murderer first!

What a lovely post for Father's Day. Thank you, my friend!

Joyce Mason said...

Ladies, I think we have a theme developing around our dads as sugary breakfast chefs! Sweet memories in more ways than one. Thank you both for sharing.

I sense a new topic for another post about how our dads influence our "inner male" and positive yang energies like self-protection, self-encouragement, providing for ourselves, etc. Many women are stuck in their past pain about problems the male archetype, yet many of us had fathers with fabulous qualities they passed onto us, even if they were not perfect human beings as no one is or can be.

One of the sweetest depictions of a father/daughter relationship I've ever seen is on the HBO adaptation of Alastair McCall Smith's novels, "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency." Even though we only meet Precious Ramotswe's "Daddy" in the first episode as he is dying, her ongoing references to him help us know what an amazing, positive, and tender influence he was on her. I tear up every time she refers to her "daddy." The love with which she says the word has me misty just typing it!

Territory to explore ...

jan said...

What a great way to honor Dad and his Sunday breakfast. Miss him and Mom a lot ..Love Ya

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks for commenting, Jan! (Hey everyone, meet my sis!) I agree: Miss him and them a lot. We saw "Up" today and I bawled through half the movie because the elderly man voiced by Ed Asner (who looks just like Spencer Tracy in his later years) reminded me so much of dad, especially in his relationship with his wife. I was touched by it in every way. We are so lucky to have had them for parents!