During the month of March, I have been participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Today, I am starting a new blog inspire by the fact that I've been trying to do more creative writing This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.
Okee From Pichokee
When we were growing up, occasionally, we had a strange visitor knock on our front door. Okee from Pichokee was one of our favorite guests. We never knew when he would show up but as I remember now, he only visited when we had friends. I guess he was a pretty social guy.
Okee wore a bathrobe and always some kind of hat. Usually, he wore a cowboy hat although he showed up in a sombrero once and a couple of times, he wore a Saint Louis Cardinals baseball hat. My father was a big Cardinals fan so we liked that Okee wore that baseball hat. Okee always wore dark glasses that he kept on throughout his stay and sandals that revealed hairy toes. His toes were shaped like my dad's, with the same bumps and crooks.
Okee carried a guitar and he would enter the family room and help himself to a comfortable chair. Then, the entertainment would start. While I don't think that Okee was much of a guitarist, he could get the whole room singing. American Pie was one of his favorites since he had spent time in St. Louis and he loved the part about the levee. If one of our guest didn't know the words, he would pull a printed copy out of his bathrobe pocket. The writing looked like my dad's writing when he was trying to write neatly. (He usually didn't.) He also loved singing Country Roads, an old John Denver favorite, and a random Christmas carol or two. (It didn't matter what time of year it was to Okee.) Okee also told us stories. One of the favorites was about how he had wrestled a crocodile in the Mississippi River and won, then had given the crocodile skin to the Plymouth car dealer who had sold my father his Gold Duster. (The roof of my father's car had a scale like texture that fascinated all of us.)
Okee stayed until he was out of songs and stories and until we all asked him too many questions. Then, he would ask my mother for a glass of milk and a pickle and leave out the front door. He never, ever used the mudroom door that we always used, coming or going.
My father never got to meet Okee. Inevitably, he would come downstairs or arrive home moments after Okee's departure. Part of the routine involved debriefing Dad about the visit--what we sang, the stories we heard, whether Okee had asked for something other than a pickle. Our friends always went along with the routine and then shared the experiences with other friends. Everyone wanted to be at the house to experience an Okee from Pichokee visit.
Maybe Okee is still around today, wearing a different bathrobe and singing different songs, although he has been missing in our lives for many years. He is a great provider of the gift of humor, laughter, and imagination. And, if Okee ever knocks on your front door, I highly recommend letting him in!