by Casey Bash, age 13 (Eighth Grade) 2010
Little Big Man and Old Lodge Skins
His Soaring Heart
The iconic Willie Nelson has worn his straw hat on stage. He lived “off the grid” in Malibu for eight years. Ray Bradbury has sung his praises as a writer. He solves the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle while on the toilet.
He is . . .The Most Interesting Dad in the World.
My old man may not be Superman, but in the eyes of those around him he is nothing short of a super guy. His personality reflects generosity and gallantry to nearly everyone he meets. He’s the type of guy who will never fail to drop some bills for the street musician strumming and singing on the corner. He’s also quite the handyman and always knows how to get out of a tight spot; from fixing washing machines to car repair, he’s the man.
The stereotypical father-teenager relationship full of bitterness, argument, and resentment is commonplace among my peers. I’m exceedingly fortunate to have the sincere and positive relationship I share with my Dad. We can talk comfortably around each other without holding anything back, and he can make me laugh until my stomach hurts and my eyes water, which we both find very atypical compared to most father-son relationships. Okay, so every once in awhile he can be a real party pooper and pain in the neck, but it’s only because he cares about what’s best for me (or so he says at least).
My Dad grew up on a desolate farm about sixty miles outside of Fort Worth, Texas. On that farm, young “Kenny” got pretty good at playing tea party and dress-up, being the only boy with two older sisters. He also had a real rifle when he was only six years old, and hunted in the woods by himself. His best bud was a boy named Roy Glenn (his two first names), who lived three miles away. Dad would ride his bike there. Their friendship even survived Roy Glenn’s rabid dog biting my eight-year-old Dad, forcing him to get a rabies shot in the stomach every day for two weeks.
Over the course of my Dad’s childhood he did well in school and was pretty good at football and baseball (or so he tells me, again). He once told me about the time his ribs were broken at the bottom of a good old-fashioned football dogpile. However, his football days were cut short when he reached high school. Everyone started outgrowing him so he decided to take up the snare drum in the school band. Believe it or not, the Spruce High School Apache Band was comprised of the rowdiest hoodlums the school had to offer. Trumpet players would routinely stow bottles of Southern Comfort in their horn cases. Being the tradesmen my Dad was he picked up the drums fairly quickly and wasn’t all that bad. (I’ll concur on this because he still jams every now and then).
In 1995, at a Willie Nelson concert at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, Dad threw his old straw hat up onto the stage, and Willie put it on and wore it for three numbers.
Despite his above average percussion ability, my Dad’s calling has always been writing. As a young boy he wrote poems about lawn mowers and birds and his dog, and occasionally hammered out a song parody. He incessantly wrote throughout his adolescence and young adulthood. Later on he won the Bad Hemingway writing contest (judged by Ray Bradbury, among others) and the prize of a trip to Italy. He took the love of his life, my Mom, on a vacation to Europe for a month. The two lovebirds shared memories there that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
My Mom and Dad have been happily married for over 25 years. They’re both outstanding parents that deserve much further gratitude than I give them. Their selflessness is remarkable considering what brats my brother and I can be.
There are few things I love more than kicking my feet up and passing around a bowl of hot popcorn with my family on movie night. One of my Dad’s favorite movies is Little Big Man, a story about the tales of a young pioneer boy who was orphaned at the Little Bighorn and adopted by a tribe of Cheyenne. This particular movie will always be held close to my heart because my Dad’s favorite line from that movie is when the chief, Old Lodge Skins, expresses his pride for Little Big Man by saying, “My heart soars like a hawk.”
Then on a sweltering and sticky Saturday afternoon after one of my youth football games my Dad jokingly repeated the not-yet-sacred phrase. And it stuck. Now it means so much more to him and me than the humdrum “good job” or “well done.” It reflects our extraordinary bond that we will always share and how much we sincerely care for one another. He truly loves speaking those revered words, which unfailing yield a proud grin on my face.
However, I love making my Dad’s heart “soar” even more.