Winding Down

Prior to this installment I wrote about Mr. Stevens, whom I pretty much adore, last summer. As sometimes happens in the aging process, his life has become a bit more basic than it once was.

I learned to do a lot of chores at the Stevens house. This morning as I stripped the bed, I remembered the Stevens household and Big Danny Stevens’ exemplary demonstration of what a dad should be.

There was nothing quiet about the Stevens kids. I don’t recall much being left unsaid. Of course, there were secrets that were kept from Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. We were pretty careful to keep our infractions confidential from the siblings who never got in trouble; either they were old enough to be over it or still young and untarnished. I remember some low level blackmail between the kids, “If you don’t do my chores for me, I’ll tell Dad what you did.” There was plenty of the same sort of blackmail at my house. I imagine it’s the sort of white collar crime you might find in any large family.

Once you got in trouble, you didn’t have to doubt your place in the world. For several horribly uncomfortable minutes, not only did the world revolve around you, you were the center of Big Danny Stevens’ universe. Boy he could yell.

Mr. Stevens is winding it up and winding down. His voice isn’t near as strong as it was when his kids were young and required so much of his attention. I spent a lot of time listening to  him when I was young. I was mesmerized by the dad he was. I overheard him talking about each and every one of his kids at one time or another. He worried. A lot.

To my ears the message was always the same, no matter the decibel level, “I love you. I hurt when you’re hurt and I’ll protect you the best way I know how. Sometimes the best way is to yell as LOUD as I can so you’ll think before you make the same dumb mistake twice.”

I’m sure he doubted himself as a parent but his intentions were good. He never held his kids back from achieving more than he did. When they’ve been happy, he’s been happy.


About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
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12 Responses to Winding Down

  1. John says:

    Sounds like a Good Man, this Mr Stevens.

    Does he have a wife named Samantha, by chance? 🙂

  2. judithatwood says:

    What a loving tribute! You’re the best!

    • elroyjones says:

      Both Mr. and Mrs. Stevens were good to me, as exasperating as my friendship with their daughter must have been. Mrs. Stevens would say, “You can’t trust them, one lies and the other one swears to it.” Mr. Stevens would reply, “That’s what friends do.” They had a lot more patience than I would have had. I would have killed us if I’d been them!

  3. gkinnard says:

    As fine a tribute as anyone could possibly hope to have written about them. Great job, Elroy I’m happy that you had/have this relationship in your life.

    • elroyjones says:

      The thing I admire most about his parenting style is the undeniable fact that he has been engaged in the lives of his kids. Even now when the kids are old enough to be grandparents, he is proud of their accomplishments and is quick to defend them when they’ve been wronged.

  4. I yell because I care. I have that on a t-shirt.

  5. Both of your posts about Mr. Stevens are precious. A caring, kind Man.

  6. Peggy says:

    From history, I can assure you, some of BDS’s children don’t have the same impression about him as Elroy. She and I could work him (well) but others weren’t so lucky. He thought we were princesses (we knew better) so we played the poor man to the hilt. It was with much chagrin that I had daughters (girls are so sneaky).

    • elroyjones says:

      I wish all the kids had the same impression. I know they don’t but I don’t think that diminishes the parent he has been. You’re right about us. He knew we were badly behaved but we were entertaining too so he liked us.

      We made them laugh. Back then there was a lot of adult laughter. I don’t notice it as much now. Maybe they were the last generation to have the luxury of laughter. I remember your mother especially, with those beautiful teeth, getting a big kick out of something someone said and laughing.

      • Peggy says:

        I think a lot of that laughter was alcohol induced (the Murrays etc.). Whatever. We loved it and we knew when to split. Mom, on the other hand, just liked to laugh. She still does even though she doesn’t know it.

  7. Amy says:

    He is pretty much the coolest cat around. Everyone loves him.

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