A Literary Tribute to my Father

It’s always special when, as I’m reading a good book, I come across a passage or quote that reminds me of a beloved person, place, or thing.  In honour of Father’s Day, I’ve collected some quotes that remind me of Dad.

“’Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing-absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.  Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: ‘messing- about- in boats; messing-‘ ‘Look ahead, Rat!’ cried the Mole suddenly.  It was too late.  The boat struck the bank at full tilt.  The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.  ‘- about in boats- or with boats,’ the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh.”—The Wind in the Willows

Despite having studied geology and working the earth, Dad is truly in his element when on or around the water.  When I was a baby, he built two boats—a rowboat and a canoe/kayak hybrid.  These two boats have served us well on many, many outings.  Now and then he will bring up this very quote.  I have never seen him crash into the bank and tip over, though.  (Even when he stands up—going against all the boater rules—he never tips over).

“Puns are the dung of a soaring mind.”—Les Miserables

This is Dad’s favourite Les Mis quote, which he will often repeat after making a pun.  Sometimes, though, he will shorten it.  “Soaring mind,” he will say with a laugh, “soaring mind”.   When I make a pun, however, he will shorten it further.  “…dung…”  

“There is a good a cup of tea is when you are feeling low.  Thin, and plenty of milk, and brown sugar in the crystal, in a big cup so that when your mouth is used to the heat you can drink instead of sipping.  Every part of you inside you that seems to have gone to sleep comes lively again.  A good friend of mine is a cup of tea, indeed.”—How Green Was My Valley

Being the descendant of a Scottish tea merchant, my father knows the value of good tea.  The kettle is always on, and there are several tea-tins in the cupboards.  (We like to keep a good stash of great-grandfather’s special blend).  Just as important as a quality tea, is a quality tea cup.  Fine bone china, with a tasteful picture or pattern.   

“There is a lovely smell with tweed.  Good it is, and honest, of the earth and of humankind, and a pleasure to wear, and always a friend to you.”  — How Green Was My Valley

Clad in earthy-coloured tweed, my father suitably looks the part of a gentleman farmer.  Now and then he will wear great-great grandfather’s coat, which still looks dignified even with worn elbows.  Dad knows where to get the best tweed items, and once gave me a tweed and leather book bag, which I would take on my tutoring appointments to add an extra scholarly atmosphere.

Susan’s mince pies are poems, just as her apple pies are lyrics,” said the doctor.  “Give me a slice of both, Anne-girl.”—Anne of Ingleside*

Like Gilbert, Dad appreciates a good pie.  Apple is one of his favourites (something I’ve never fully understood).   But more important than the filling is the crust: flakey, not doughy. I haven’t managed to create such a crust yet, but Dad makes sure to send me any tips and recipes he can find to help my on my culinary journey.

“‘You remember the day I lunched at the Ritz?” “Yes, sir.  You were wearing an Alpine hat.’ ‘There is no need to dwell on the Alpine hat, Jeeves.’ ‘No, sir.’ ‘If you really want to know, several fellows at the Drones asked me where I had got it.’ ‘No doubt with a view of avoiding your hatter, sir.’”—Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

As much as I’d rather not admit to having anything in common with Bertie Wooster, my father and I have had conversations very similar to this one.  He considers my favourite winter hat ‘injudicious’, and shows Jeevish peevishness when I intend to wear it in public.  

“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Genesis 2:9 a

It was Dad’s idea to take this section of Genesis, and adopt it as the motto for the family farm.  Even though we still have to go through some Genesis 2: 17-19, the Lord God has been good to our homestead by giving us much fruit and flower.

* I think.  I forget exactly which Anne book, to be honest.

4 thoughts on “A Literary Tribute to my Father

  1. Dearest Shennachie, I loved picturing (envisioning and hearing) your father in the context of each quote, accompanied by your delightful anecdotes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s