When I was little, I always associated the smell of a cigar with my Grampy (Mom’s Dad). It made me think of all the wonderful things at my Grandparent’s home and how much I loved being there. Now that my father has passed, it more reminds me of how much I miss my Dad. I can see him standing in the garage or on the deck relaxing with a cheap El Producto or enjoying something a little nicer with the boys on the deck at the cape, maybe a Hampton Court or a smuggled Cuban. Dad would stare into space and daydream and relax when he smoked a cigar. I think maybe he was thinking of golf or Puerto Rico or maybe just the beach at the Cape. Dad found relaxing difficult so this memory is really one I treasure. That smell can bring tears to my eyes at the drop of ash.
My Dad was a Chemical Engineer, one of the top in his field of Environmental Consulting. I am not bragging, it is a fact and I have the documentation to prove it. He was incredibly detail oriented but had a difficult time with change. He had a calculator from the late 60′s that he used until it died completely. He was also not completely trusting of computers. I think he could have become more of a techy guy had he had the chance. He kept extremely detailed notes on all his projects. His writing was all capital letters but he made the letters that were supposed to be lowercase smaller that the ones that were uppercase. I envied his writing because it seemed to flow so well. Every word was so perfectly legible (unlike my handwriting today). He almost always kept his notes on graph paper. I thought it was the coolest thing. Later in life, I would realize just how important all those notes were. My writing never looked as good on graph paper but I still buy it sometimes just to see.
I remember at a very early age not understanding why I could not have the awesome smelling grape Bubble Yum my Dad used to get. The pieces were HUGE compared to those little piddly Trident pieces. The smell of that artificial grape and sugar was mesmerizing. Sometimes Dad would let me have half a piece. I could feel the sugar in between my teeth and the gorgeous fake grape flavor wash over my mouth. Then I would try to blow a bubble and the gum would fall out of my mouth.
According to the company my Dad worked for, he used a lot of pencils; Dixon Ticonderoga number 2 pencils to be exact. He seemed to go through a lot of them in September when his girls started school for the year and about the time those girls too k their SATs. I am not sure how they never put 2 and 2 together considering all his detailed notes were in fine point black pen. These days, they’d dock his paycheck for it.
While these four items, cigars, graph paper, bubble gum and pencils may seem like an odd combination, I can tell you who my Dad was based on them. My Dad was contemplative when he felt he could be. His job was very stressful and when he had a cigar, he was allowing himself to relax and think of golfing or Puerto Rico. He was extremely detail oriented, maybe to a fault at times. Although he was an amazing person, I think he was always driven to a certain perfection. It might have been OCD had he allowed himself to think there was anything wrong with the details. He still had playfulness in him although you rarely saw it. I think the grape gum was part of that. The pencils, well. Mom never asked him to do that. He just brought them home for us. As a result, I appreciate a well sharpened, yellow number 2 pencil.
I am a lot like my Dad. Some think there is a bit of fault in this as I have trouble with my emotions and I stress myself out more than I should. But when I look at the items above, I see the good things I picked up; remember to daydream, there is calmness in the details, don’t forget that kid inside and remember to pick up pencils (or ice cream) for those you love.