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:

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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.