Terms of Endearment
On this Father’s Day eve, I am overwhelmed with memories of my Dad. He’s been gone for more than eight years and, in many ways, I’ve adjusted to that fact. I know I can’t talk to him on the phone about such mundane matters as “why won’t my grass grow?” or “what’s wrong with my car?”, knowing that he would have suggestions for these and almost any other question I might pose. I won’t ever hear his quiet little laugh again (though it does warm my heart when my brothers laugh in the same way), and I can’t sit at the kitchen table nursing a cup of coffee while he tells stories from when he was a boy.
But I do know that his being…his example…is a fact of my everyday life. I don’t consciously think of him every day, but his influence is always there. I know he was proud of my various accomplishments, just as he was for what my brothers and sisters have made of their lives, and while I know that I don’t always live up to his expectations, I do know that he loved me unconditionally, for my successes and in spite of my failures. There probably isn’t much more a child can ask of a parent.
I’m the second oldest in our family of ten children so I had ample opportunity to notice Dad’s interaction with his children, especially when they were babies and toddlers. One of the most precious things I remember is that he usually referred to the youngest children in our family by a nickname or two. His favorites were:
- schnickelfritz ~ a mischievous little boy; a scamp. Usually used endearingly; by extension, a sweetheart. Endearing epithet for a child. (definitions courtesy of Dictionary of American Regional English)
- punkin ~ as far as I can tell this is a variant of “pumpkin” and probably referred to the rounded nature of toddler tummies or diaper-covered bottoms.
- chief ~ I believe Dad only used this nickname for my youngest brother. By the time #10 along, some 27 years after the oldest of us, Dad had the wisdom to know which battles were important and needed to be fought and which ones didn’t matter in long run. Or maybe he just wanted the little one to think he was in charge?
Wishing you the very best of Father’s Day memories…