Thursday, June 08, 2006
Passing by a display of Father’s Day cards at the grocery store the other day, I was reminded that we edge ever closer to our annual celebration of Dad. Since the death of my father nine years ago last April, Father’s Day passes each year unmarked on my calendar. This is not to say that I do not pay homage to my father’s memory with every daily traversing of the sun. Not a day passes by that I do not think upon the man that was my dad.
My father was a truly remarkable man and this is not just an admiring daughter’s opinion. Everyone who met my father immediately applied for membership to his fan club. Devoted husband, parent and friend, admirable and annoying in his religiosity, a contagious and gregarious personality that attracted many to his milieu, my father was also intensely creative, an accomplished writer and photographer, hometown politician, comedian, marathon athlete, educator, mentor, visionary. He was steadfast in his belief that humanity can and should strive to make our world a better place though action, education, charity, compassion and love. I can safely say that he was the only individual I’ve ever encountered that actually practiced what he preached and that my friends, is nothing short of amazing.
Richard Henry Rioux never took life for granted. He lived each and every moment with gusto. I can still hear his laugh as distinctly as if it were just minutes ago. A smile creeping its way across my lips as I visualize my dad struggling with his computer, muttering G-rated obscenities, because the “rabbit” (his term for mouse) was not obeying his wishes. I remember vividly, the endless piles of lists, steno pads filled with his chicken scratch verbiage, huge cabinets filled with photographs and slides (the guy documented everything) cluttering up every surface and recess of his home command center. I can still feel the gentle hum of the engine in his red Ford Explorer as we drove the desert highway to St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo in order to meet with his cadre of monk consultants on his next big project…a special effects driven blockbuster based upon an epic battle between Jesus and Lucifer...Um, yeah. Dad always tried to include me in his schemes, no matter how harebrained and no matter my level of reluctance. He used to tell me that I was the offspring who was most like him and by virtue of that fact my participation was obligatory. Whether I acted as project consultant, secretary, graphic designer or computer tutor, like it or not, I was a de facto member of Team Richard.
The founding member of Team Richard was also the greatest cheerleader for TeamLinoleum. The story goes that at the ripe old age of two, a pencil was put into my hand and sheet of paper put before me in the hopes that I would create. And create I did. And create I still do. Art supplies were a predominant feature at Chez Rioux and a trip in the dadmobile to the library in an effort to acquire more craft books could always be had on a lazy Saturday afternoon for the term “I’m bored” was as unwelcome as it was rare. From painting to jewelry design, there was always a class to attend and a dad to chauffer me to and fro. When I hit college age, my father gleefully drove me around to local area universities so that I could investigate each art program before deciding which one would best suit my impending college career. Basically, my dad was a Crayola pusher and I am who I am because of that fact.
If you’ve got issues with crocheted meat on a crocheted grill, Richard’s the guy you should blame. I was never, ever told that I could not or should not attempt anything creative or otherwise. I simply went about my life painting, sculpting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, making, experimenting, experiencing, border-free! I don’t know that my dad ever really understood what I was making, but he supported my deep-seated need to explore and create nonetheless.
Dad, if you’ve got internet access in Heaven and you may in fact be reading this, I’d like you to know that I miss your daily presence in my life. I miss your laughter and your endless phone calls urging me to take my vitamins despite the fact that I am an adult and perfectly capable of handling my daily supplements. I miss your plethora of crazy lists detailing all of your ginormous projects. I miss your cowboy hats and your complete inability to get your computer “rabbit” to perform. I miss your undeniably simplistic, yet full of big ideas local newspaper columns that you faithfully photocopied for me every week in the hopes that I would read them upon receipt (which I always did but never let you know that). I miss the far from gourmet dinners you would concoct in which every dish tasted exactly the same whether meat, fish or fowl. Now that’s talent…Most of all I miss hearing you ask me again and again, “So, what do you think of me?” Dad, I think a lot of you, of this you can be sure.
~ In loving memory of Richard Henry Rioux (1943 – 1997)
Posted by Regina Rioux at 4:07 PM