Posted on 18 Comments

Autumn Memories

Today is the last day of October already, and it’s also the anniversary of my father’s death.  I thought it would be fitting to share with you one of the fondest memories I have of my dad.

First, let me show you what my dad looked like. 017_00

The cool thing about this picture is that not only can you see my dad, but you can also see the “fireplace” that we had in my house when I was a kid.

It was made of plywood covered with a brick print contact paper. I can’t think of a tackier focal point for a living room than a fake fireplace made of contact paper bricks, but when I was a kid, I really liked it!

The opening of the fireplace was home to a set of fake logs that had a piece of fire-colored plastic in it with a light bulb behind it.

I remember many times my father coming home and saying, “It’s cold in here.  Let’s have a fire in the fireplace.”  He would bend down behind that chair and plug in the fake logs.  It’s hard to imagine, but those fake logs did have a way of making the room feel warmer.

My dad had a unique way of decorating our home for autumn.  Every year in October when the foliage was at its peak, we would go out for a walk and gather the most beautiful fall leaves that we could find.

When we got home, we would apply little wads of white sticky tack to the back of each leaf so that we could “tack” them to the wall in our living room.  Here’s what it looked like when we were finished:


I hope nobody tells my brother and sister-in-law that I shared this picture of them online.

Anyway, don’t the leaves look beautiful?

It was like bringing autumn right into the house with us.  Just like outside, the leaves would lose their luster after a week or so.  The leaves would curl up and little bits of them would fall off onto the floor.

Now I understand why my mom wasn’t particularly fond of this tradition since it would have fallen to her to clean up the mess.

In October 1982 when my father was in the final stages of lymphoma, I went for a walk in the woods by myself to gather the leaves. My dad, who was like a shadow of the man he once was,  sat on the rocking chair watching while I sticky-tacked leaves to the wall one last time. I can’t remember how long he had at home to enjoy them that year because he died in the hospital on October 31, 1982 at the age of sixty-four.

My father passed on to me a lot of his frugal ways, his enjoyment of a warm, cozy home, and a lot of practical living skills.  I don’t know what happened to that fireplace, but I suppose it’s best that he didn’t pass that on to me, too.



18 thoughts on “Autumn Memories

  1. I love hearing these stories! I have so many of my dad too! Every year on Christmas morning, my mom would video tape us opening our gifts. One year my dad had the camcorder. He came down the stairs and was talking as he went. All of the sudden he says, “Oh no! I’ve stepped in some reindeer poop!” But he said it in an English accent, which made it all the more hillarious! His smile was infectious and that’s one thing that no matter how much time passes, you just don’t forget. 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by to comment, Heather!
      I remember your dad well, and I can almost hear him saying that reindeer poop line with a British accent. These good memories are priceless!

  2. What a beautiful memory Elaine,I have to give your Mom credit for letting him put the leaves on the wall.We had a fake fireplace as well, it wasn’t made of cardboard,it was some kind of probably fake stone,but we loved it! It was in the house we rented,but it made us feel very classy!

    1. Isn’t it funny how much you can enjoy something like a fake fireplace when you don’t care or realize what others might think of it?
      You’re right about my mom, too, Jayne. I’m not so sure I would have handled this the way she did. I probably would have nipped this tradition in the bud!

  3. I don’t believe my father had any Halloween traditions, but I remember fondly the Valentine’s Day he had no spare money and he made my brother and me little wooden hearts he cut out. I wish I had kept mine! I do believe I had it pasted in a scrapbook, but recently looked through them and don’t remember seeing it.

    1. Mary Gail, how sweet that your dad would take time to make you a Valentine. I know what you mean about wishing you could find some of those special things that are now gone.

  4. I love your Dad’s pleasure in simple things. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind. You are blessed to have so many good memories of him.

    1. You’re right, Elizabeth, I am blessed. He loved simple, beautiful things, and that is a worthy legacy to leave.

  5. Oh, Elaine, do you really expect me to keep comments about that picture to myself? LOL

    1. They might get a kick out of seeing that picture, then again, they might not. 🙂

      1. Hello sister-in-law, I loved the picture of John and I, pretty sure I was pregnant (lol) I enjoyed your entire blog, read everything on it. John and I also pasted leaves on our wall in the fall. They looked beautiful, our kids too have fond memories of things we learned from your Mom and Dad, great role models in my book. Your Mom taught me how to use a pressure cooker, still using the one she bought us when we moved up here to “Houtzville” as I refer to it. Thanks for sharing your memories.

        1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Dolly.

  6. 🙂
    You have a nice thing to remember!

    1. Yes, it is a nice memory. Thanks, Cindy.

  7. Oh Elaine, I just wanted to cry reading this about your poppa as well as what Heather wrote :’o) My dad actually knew Heather’s dad :o) Don’t you just love that we have those special memories? I have found that it’s not the big things in life that mean the most, but all those inexpensive loving memories. I am forever thankful for the memories that I have of my childhood and my precious poppa.

    1. You are so right, Terra! It’s not about what our parents bought for us (or didn’t buy for us); it’s about who they were and how they impacted our lives with their love.

  8. One of my most prized memories was going to the edge of the field to pick leaves for on the wall. I tried to do this with my kids last year but they just didn’t get the enjoyment from it that I did as a child. I learned so many things about nature from Pap I just want to pass that knowledge onto someone.

    1. I didn’t realize that you would even remember this tradition, Matt! Too bad your kids didn’t get into it, too. But Jo is probably glad since it does make a mess in the house. 😉
      Dad had a lot of wisdom about a lot of things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *