The most interesting family member in my family is hard to choose. We all have our own idiosyncrasies and quirks. I decided to write about my dad, Ronald Meister. I didn’t get to know my dad as well as I would have liked. He passed away suddenly when I was only twenty-three years old. I had been away from home for several years prior to his death.I loved hearing his stories and sharing happy times with him. The week before he died, he and mom came to visit me in Waterloo, Iowa. We spent Thanksgiving together and had a full week of stories, laughter and closeness.
We went back to when I was growing up with my two sisters on MacArthur Dr. One of our favorite customs was to have family dinner together in the dining room, candles and all. One night in particular, dad was all dressed up ready to go to a Lodge meeting. We were having liver for dinner. My middle sister hated liver and kept secretly feeding it to the dog under the table. When the dog had eaten too much liver, she started to be sick (very quietly).
Dad tried to figure out what the noise was and we all played dumb. He pushed back his chair to leave for his meeting. In the process, his foot slid under the table on something wet and juicy. I just remember the look on his face as he realized his perfectly shined shoes were now covered in dog barf. I remember not daring to laugh. Dad took his appearance very seriously and this was no laughing matter.
My dad was meticulous about his appearance. I seldom saw him in anything other than a suit and tie, starched white shirt, shiny wingtip shoes and his trademark, a hat. On occasion, he would sport a bow tie. He had a part time job on Friday evenings, working at the local men’s clothing store. I think this must have been his way of supporting his clothes habit. They loved him there. He made a great example of the professional look.
This look took a bit of a dive however, when he was mowing the lawn. He would appear in his boxer shorts, his leather slippers and white t-shirt, and you guessed it, his hat! The boxer shorts were also his run around the house look. We all thought it was hysterical but never said a word.
Dad and I often disagreed on issues. He was always ready for a good debate. The first one I remember well was the Presidential election with Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy. I had studied my “Weekly Reader” and told dad that I thought JFK was the right man for the job. He was strong in his beliefs and didn’t hesitate to let me know that Nixon was his candidate. He did say that I made several excellent points, but I was wrong.
Dad enjoyed getting pampered by his girls. He would lay in his red reclining chair. Next, he would ask one of us to take off his shoes, pull his damp nylon socks away from his feet and sit down to give him a foot rub. Another task we would be called on to do was to use a little nylon brush to brush through his hair. Our cooperation lasted until we reached our mid-teens at which point, we would respectfully refuse. He understood but enjoyed the special treatment while it lasted.
Mom would also get in on the act. Dad would call to her in another room to come and change the channel on the TV. This was before the day of remotes and she would smile and do his bidding.
Dad was handsome, professional and could sell anything he truly believed in. He was honest and transparent. He told me often that if I were to sell anything, find the best product, believe in it and you will be a success. He was also committed to customer service and would always give advice based on what was best for the customer.
While my parents were in Iowa for that week in November, my mom bought my dad a great looking deep red sport coat. She knew he would love it and was excited about surprising him at Christmas since she was seldom able to keep things a surprise.
Sadly, my father passed before she had the chance. He was buried in that special sport coat. Dad was a committed Masonic Lodge member and he was honored by a Solemn Masonic Funeral. The funeral was standing room only and I burst with pride knowing that so many other people and friends came to honor him.
Dad was fastidious about his cars, his wardrobe and his children. He loved his wife and showed his affection daily. No matter what happened, we always knew that he loved us dearly and always had our backs.