On my last post, my father commented that he would gladly send me care packages of cornmeal and bacon grease when I moved up north. God bless that man. This, of course, reminds me of all the dinners he cooked for me as a child.
Growing up, at least since I was about 12, it was just Dad and me. Mom was around a lot, but she lived across town. I saw her most afternoons and on the weekends, but Dad was mostly responsible for feeding me.
To this day, his cornbread is still the best in the world, according to my taste buds. Though, I must give a major shout-out to Mom's pancakes, which are also the best in the world. I know Lunger will back me up on that one.
He made a lot of cornbread, and he also made almost all other accompanying, dinner-related dishes in the crock pot. He made so many dinners in the crock pot, that he brought it to an art form. I could have ice cream or cookies for breakfast, but when I came home from school, we ate some sort of slow-cooked meal.
He prepared all the standard crock pot meals: chili, stew, and soup. But he also made a lot of plain old meat, like barbeque pork chops. His foremost medium, however, was chicken.
Barbeque chicken, garlic chicken, ranch-flavored chicken, and the very memorable "Chicken Italiano," as he so aptly named it. "Chicken Italiano" consisted, basically, of chicken breast and tomato sauce. If you think this tasted good, you are sadly mistaken.
For some reason, this particular concoction did not work out. The chicken was so dry as to be crunchy, and the outside was a charred, tomatoey brown. We ordered Chinese that night.
He also liked to make Rice-A-Roni, especially the red beans and rice kind to go with our barbeque chicken. Another favorite was microwaved frozen broccoli with cheddar cheese melted on top. And salad, of course.
Don't get me wrong, Dad tried really hard. He told me many times that it was important to our relationship, as parent and child, to eat dinner together every night. He liked to relate all sorts of child psychology factoids to me. With Dad, it was never a matter of him simply implementing a parenting skill, he liked to explain the theory behind it too.
He also told me that the average person needs at least five hugs a day to remain emotionally balanced. I don't know if he made this up or read it somewhere. The latter is more likely because he was and still is, a voracious reader. Where he got this information is irrelevent. Sometimes he would just look at me and say, "I don't think either one of us has met our hug quota for the day."
He's a pretty cerebral guy, but he's also a great dad. I always know that he loves me. He always makes sure that I know I'm special. Both my parents make sure I know these things. They've been divorced a long time, and even though their parenting styles differ considerably, this is the one thing they have in common: they love me and my brother fiercely.
This is what I think about when I remember I'm moving to a different country. I will miss them so much. I keep telling myself that I'll see them much more than a lot of grown-ups see their parents. But I know I'll always need them, no matter how old I am, no matter how far away I live. I try to make sure they know that. I hope they know I love them as much as they love me.