My Dad is the father of three girls. Now he is the grandfather of two more. Five girls and no boys, and I am the middle of those five, the youngest of the three.
“I tried to raise all my daughters like sons,” he would say.
Alicia, my oldest sister was the tomboy. She excelled at sports, playing volleyball, softball, basketball, and track. She would intimidate the bullies on the playground that were picking on her kid sisters, and she even tried chewing tobacco…I think. But, she also spent the most time styling her hair. She would occupy the bathroom for hours, teasing, curling, crimping, and spraying her mall bangs that dominated her look and cast a shadow on the floor that made her look as tall as Shaquille O’Neill. Now she is the gentle motherly type who tenderly coos at her baby girl and plays “store” with her other daughter.
Marissa, the middle daughter, could pal around with the guys like she was one of them. She shot pool, went “two-trackin’,” a Midwestern teen pastime, and could drink anyone under the table. But even though she was chummy with the guys, I think secretly they all had crushes on her. She was voted by her classmates onto the homecoming court, read Seventeen magazine (which she occasionally shared with me) and wore the hottest pink sequin dress to the senior prom with high heels.
And then there is me. Teresa. I played with dolls until I was almost in high school. The only sport I was really good at was when I was the coxswain for the men’s crew team. And after I was the flower girl in my cousin’s wedding, I wouldn’t take the lacy, flowery, dress off. I think I would have worn it to school if my mother had let me. And I have never worn high heels.
So, I was surprised the day my father took me aside to tell me something that perhaps he has forgotten by now, but I will never fail to recall. He stood next to me, with one hand on my shoulder, composing himself as if he was going to tell me some historic news. And in his best John Wayne voice, he said, “Darlin’. You know, a father gives his son a pocket knife.” He thrust a small folding knife key chain toward me. “You are my son.”
If it weren’t for my dad, I don’t think I would be a sailor. I would just be lost. I remember when Dad went sailing in the BVIs with his friends. He was sharpening his skills to prepare for buying his first boat. When he returned he brought me a sea-shell necklace and a coconut. My first ocean treasures. I especially loved the coconut. I had never seen one. I saved it for so long that when I finally cracked it open, it has a worm in it.
After a seemingly lifetime of dreaming, Dad finally bought a sailboat. I was about eight years old. It was a Ranger 23 that Alicia named Applerush. When I tell people the name of the boat, I am met with confused looks? “How do you spell that?” “One word or two?” “What does that mean?” And most often, “Why Applerush?” I have no answers for these questions, except that we like it. Alicia blurted it out during a family car trip and it stuck. And so the boat was called Applerush.
The Applerush was often home to Mom, Dad, Alicia, Marissa and I on family vacations. All five of us would cram into the tiny 23 foot boat, which I believed happened to be the perfect size for me because I was the only one who could stand up straight in the cabin, something I thought I would always be able to do. As a family we sailed about the coast and islands of Lake Michigan, hung our feet over the side of the boat to dip them in the waves, and screamed at the wind.
Dad and I especially would scream at the wind. “It makes me feel ALIVE!,” we would yell over and over again and again. When summer was over and the boat was in storage for the winter, we still yelled. Every Friday on the way to school Dad and I would drive Marissa, nuts by yelling, “T…G…I…F…Its Friday! Blast Off!”
Yes, Dad is a strange one, and sometimes I channel his strangeness. I like it that way.
Great post. Well written and to the point. Have you thought about being a professional writer? I can see your stuff in a lot of magazines.
Keep it up!
I read this post with a chuckle and a smile because I know you and your family and their special personalities. For those who didn’t know Teresa growing up, she was a fun, spontaneous, smart, dreamy, heavily opinionated person who had her own unique style. And did I mention fun? Her parents treated me with such warmth that I will always remember them fondly. Remember our spring break trip to Florida? 20+ hours in the Suburban listening to the Party and cracking ourselves up in the backseat. Your dad went running in tiny shorts that I never knew men wore. Your mom made to laugh easily and your cousins adorable. I treasure these memories. Sending my love to you and your family…
Thanks for the encouragement. It is a dream…goal…plan of mine to write and publish. I have an excellent idea for a book. I am so glad you are enjoying my writing, as I enjoy the time I find to sit and let the words flow through my fingertips. Speaking of tips…if you have any tips about how to get a book or magazine contract, let me know.
Good post Teresa. I used to crew on a Ranger 23, followed by a Ranger 33 and a J-37 all owned by the same friend. My daughter was a tomboy too. She played little league, but eventually switched over to the high school softball team where she was both a pitcher and a catcher. She started sailing at 2 years old strapped into a car seat on our Pearson 30, but it didn’t stick with her. We sold that boat when she was 9. She is in college now and she likes to sun herself on my current boat (a stinkpot), but she isn’t really interested in sailing or boating.
Have you checked out the forums at http://www.pointseast.com/forum/? On the outside chance you haven’t seen it, Points East is a great local boating magazine published in Maine. There isn’t a ton of traffic ton their forum, but there are some interesting folks there, and it’s mostly about New England boating. I’m sure there are a few people who would be interested in your blog. I’ve been thinking you must be freezing on some these cold nights we’ve had recently, especially last week.
So are you actually living on your boat still or have you moved ashore for the winter?
I am still living on my boat! In fact, the winds kept me up last night. One of the lines that keeps my cover on broke and so the cover was a little loose. The wind was so strong and the cover was flapping about. Very noisy in the cabin!
Thanks for sharing. It’s amazing how families shape us, and where all that shaping can lead when we make good use of it. Great post.
My dad has a sailboat when I was little. He named her “Slip, Slide and Away,” which I loved. I can’t hear the song without thinking of the hours we spent on Cayuga Lake, near Ithaca, N.Y.
He traded it in for a small speedboat when I was about 10. I promised him I’d buy him a yacht when I grew up, but I never got the chance. (It didn’t help that I decided to become a newspaper copy editor — my first salary barely covered my rent, and I had two roommates). But I wish I could have.
He loved being on the water. So do I. It sounds like you and your dad share a strong bond. I wish you many happy sailing adventures together.
I dont like to think of you being cold and lying there listening to the wind…..while I am very very proud of you…and am comforted by your intelligence and ambitions….I can’t help but miss the times I could tuck you into your warm bed..and know you would be there in the morning……I love you…
the mention of Gina’s name always brings a smile to my heart. (although her memory of Dad….YIKES )…she was always a joy to have be part of our family…and to know she was one of your good friends…..
No worries, Mom! I’m still here. A windy night at the dock won’t sweep me away.
Hi Teresa, my Asian wife is also from an all daughter Singaporean family,,,, not welcomed here, as sons have more value according to local televised college debates on the subject.
I have been wondering if most, “all daughter”, families, read Jane Austen’s , “Pride and Prejudice” , or watch the BBC video screen play ?
Did you read or see it, in your family ?
We both certainly enjoyed it.
I never read it or saw it! But we watched “Little Women” and “Little House on the Prairie.”
Dad was a big influence and stocked the shelves with books like “The Endurance” and “Voyage for Madmen” and movies like “White Squall” and “Back to the Future.” We liked adventure stories and sea stories!
As a kid, I only heard the stories through my Dad. But, I began reading them myself when I was old enough. I remember trying to read “Moby Dick” when I was waaaaay to young to understand. Every other word I was asking my Dad for the meaning! I didn’t get much further than “Call me Ishmeal!” And, of course, we enjoyed some “girly” books and movies too!
Nice blog! Wondered over here from another one that recommened you and yeah! I ‘ll be back
Amazing stuff T
The past few months I’ve been working on a sail boat that hopefully will get wet in another month or so. Seems as though I am slowly but inevitably drifting towards the live aboard lifestyle too… Don’t stop writing 🙂
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Hey Teresa! I’m just now reading this for the first time. I wanted to add that there was a time when your dad lived with my mom (his sister, and of course, your aunt) and he was a sort of a “father figure” in our house. He has always been such a joy in my life. You are so lucky to have him as your dad!
I learned to sail from my Dad, too. Our boat was called Happiness Is. I still love that name. So true.