Picture of Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook

Chatter Creek Cottage: This One Is For You, Dad.

My father would have loved this old lawn mower that I found in the shed buried behind some Tiki lights. This is just a guess, of course but probably a pretty good one. I will never get to ask him that question, he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was thirty-two years old and he died six months later. In two months I would turn eleven. A light went out in my life that never got turned back on after my father died. But I’ve got memories, I’ve got images and conversations buried deep within my consciousness, words I’ve tried over the years to recapture, words unfortunately lost to history, as rusty as this old lawn mower.

We used to walk together in the garden that my grandfather built and he probably tried to teach me the difference between a lily and a rose. We used to fly paper airplanes in a Brooklyn Park, I wonder what he said to me on that old park bench, what I said to him. I do remember what he loved though- his boat, his pipes and cigars, his gabardine suits, Jimmy Cagney (I’m told he did a great impression). He loved New York City and Central Park, flowers, books and music. He loved me and I loved him.

People who knew him have said he was the nicest person they ever knew. I’m not my father’s daughter; no one is going to say that about me. But he tried to teach me compassion, and unselfishness. He tried to make me understand that kindness is greater than envy. Some days he would have been real proud of me, other days he would have been angry and he would have tried to explain why I was being mean or insensitive as he did so many years ago when I was just a kid and thought he didn’t understand things.

My Dad is the prototype for a book I’ve got coming out about three generations of women. It will be told in three books under the title ‘The Fournier’s’. He’s in the second book called ‘Glamour Girl’. I wrote him as I remembered him – his hazel eyes, his broad shoulders, his tall, lanky frame and most of all, his gentleness and his boyish naivety.

For those of you whose fathers are still living, whose father’s saw you graduate high school, win awards and grow up smart, maybe even pretty. Bless yourselves because you are blessed.

Yes, my Dad would have loved this old lawn mower with its wood handle and rusted blades; most likely they are the same age, my Dad and this beautiful antique. I remember that shop he had in Brooklyn, all those old tools, old boats he used to build. This mower is for you, Dad, it’s out where I can see it, out where I can see your smile, out where I can love it and love you.