I don’t recall how old I was, elementary school, but in the later years of it, 3rd, maybe 4th grade. I also don’t recall if it was his birthday or father’s day, the two aren’t so far from each other on the calendar. I always liked doing “dad” things with my pop. I was the tomboy between my sister and I. She always had her nose in a book, he and I played catch. I never had much of an arm, but I learned to keep my eye on the ball and found a deep satisfaction in the leather thud of ball falling squarely into mitt, my small hands quickly grasping to keep it from popping out again. When he would be working on some carpentry project for his restaurant, my sister and I would sit in the sawdust and glue and nail little scraps of wood together, positive we were building masterpieces.
I guess I probably got the idea from Hollywood, or maybe it was after one of his too-early attempts at teaching me to sail, the two of us on a small craft in the middle of Lake Merritt, me only able to concentrate for 5 minutes at a time, but I decided that a homemade toy sailboat was the perfect gift for a father from his daughter. The only thing was, I didn’t know how to build one, and the only person I could think of who would, was, of course, my dad. So I enlisted his help, and together we built a little wooden boat. I don’t even remember if we ever set it afloat, but I remember how lovingly I sanded the edges smooth from the cuts he’d made with his table saw. I remember I painted the base white with a thin blue stripe all the way around. I sewed a little canvas sail, and while I still didn’t understand the physical mechanisms that made a sailboat sail, it certainly looked the part. I apologized, for making him help me build his present. I felt like it was less-than, and it wasn’t until years later that I believed what he had told me when he’d said that building it with me was the best part of the gift.