Sunday, June 20, 2010


My father Russell Wallace  and my son Keith Eric  taking an after dinner stroll on the property of my inlaw's apple ranch in California. This was late November 1970.

One day after Christmas in the 1990's, I saw a neighbor teaching his small son to ride his new little 2 wheeler bike. The father was leaning against the fence, and periodically yelling at his child: "I told you to keep it straight!" " I told your to ......." 
I suddenly remembered learning to ride my own 2 wheeler. It wasn't after Christmas because I used the training wheels for a long time. One sunny weekend I asked my father to take them off. We lived on Califronia Street in San Francisco where it is a broad 4 lane bouldevard with fast traffic, so I rode on the wide sidewalks. (All streets need wide sidewalks!)  After taking the trainers off, my father held his hands on the steering bar to balance me and we went up and down the street. We did this again and again and again...... I finally got so discouraged that I said "I'm never going to get this!" Russell said: "Teddy Bear, you've been doing this yourself for quite some time now. I have just been waiting for you to tell me to let go." "Huh?"  So we went up and down one more time while he held his hands just a fraction above the bars so I could see for myself if this was true.  "You can go back inside now Daddy!  I'm going to ride around the block now!" I knew that he was watching from the front window and ready to come rescue me. And he was counting the minutes to make sure I showed up "on time" from my trip around the block.  I just knew these things.....what Father's did.
I never once said "Thank You Daddy". I took this day and so many others for granted where he built my confidence and made me feel safe and strong. I had no idea that other kids were having different days. I thought other kids had days like mine. I actually thought that into my early 20's.
Was Russell a teacher? Yes and No. He was a master carpenter and contractor. He was also a quiet patient teacher who taught his daugher she was 100%. He also taught her HOW people learn new things. That was a lifetime gift. Thank you Russell Wallace O from your daughter Nina O.  And thank you for a most special gift. Never once did I think I would have been better as a boy. That was the greatest gift of all.


Ellie K said...

I can't begin to express how much your post resonated for me. I miss my father, Russell Hart K (6/16/27 - 7/12/2009) and only wish I thanked him for all he did for me. I realize now, but it is too late.

My father was like yours in that he emphasized how I was every bit as capable and accountable as my brothers. I studied science and math just as they did. When I cried because I was the only girl in my drafting class, and later, in my section at work at IBM, my father (who was very formal, reserved, with an often caustic sense of humor) would ALWAYS be kind and supportive, express his confidence in me, no matter how much I doubted myself. Yet there was balance too, because my father insisted that I listen to my mother, aunts, grandmothers about uniquely feminine matters of dress and etiquette and clothing, even when I didn't want to!

Thank you. I'm crying, but I'm also recalling so many happy things too.

Nina Ø said...

Oh, Ellie, I just found your comment. Thank you for sharing your expeience of Russell Hart. I think our father's knew their contribution by what they saw in our lives. And you added something I forgot. My father really honored my mother and the feminine. Your post added that. Thank you.