As a young child I remember sitting in a lonely, darkened and smokey Elks Lodge in Washington State with my father. I was curious about the many trophy animal heads looking down at me from the walls. There were elks heads, bear heads, deer heads, many fish, and others all statuesque still-lives plaquered to the walls with golden plates on the boards they were fastened to with their engraved names, places, and times of hunts.
I had always had a fascination with the wild; with camping and hiking. This is something my father instilled in me. But there was something else I desired now after looking at all of these trophy kills: hunting. My father taught me how to shoot a gun and I wanted him to show me how to hunt.
“Dad, have you ever hunted before?”
“Yeah, a long time ago.”
“Can we go hunting sometime? I wanna learn.”, I asked.
My dad took another long gulp from his beer and put it down. He took a drag from his cigarette and exhaled the smoke into the air, looked up at one of the plaques on the wall and then hesitated a bit.
Pointing at the Deer head on the wall, my dad said, “Frank, you see that Deer up there?”
“Well, see how beautiful that animal is? All the animals that you see up there are beautiful creatures. Each one of them was a father or mother, a daughter or a son. They all had fathers and mothers.”
I was beginning to feel a little ashamed for asking the question.
He continued, “When you shoot and kill an animal like these their beauty is gone. All of their lives are gone. It’s something that you take away from them when you hunt them.”
I don’t want to teach you how to hunt. We should just let these animals live their lives and grow up and not take any of that away from them.”
I don’t want to take any of that beauty away from them.”
This is only one lesson I remember my father teaching me. There are so many others that will live on in me.
I remember his voice so clearly in my mind. I remember his smell and feel. I remember his behaviors and reactions. I remember many of his passions and hates. I remember many of his frequently-told stories that made some of his listeners question if they were true or not, but almost always made them laugh and feel happy. Some stories were lessons to learn: some were prescriptions for living a better life in the "Frank Maybusher way"; some were wise lessons that didn’t sink in and hit you until you had some time to think about them. Some stories he told were heart-wrenching and hard to listen to.
My father’s life was at times full of adventure and rebellion and at other times full of family passions that were very emotional.
If there is one thing I am certain of it is this: my father was life itself.
Life is a mix of greatness and depression, heartbreak and loving-kindness, lessons and falsehoods.
And my father’s love was of a deeper kind than most. It was a respectful, unconditional love that he felt so deeply. It would bubble up from his heart so frequently that you could see it in his face. He had a deeper empathy for others than you can imagine. He felt the sorrow and sadness that others felt and made it his own. He had a hard time keeping it in most times.
The first time my father met my wife, he was so joyous that he couldn’t hold it in and began to cry and sniffle.
Whenever he would see a new picture of our children, he would begin sniffling.
My dad’s love of my mom was so special and deep. There were definitely hard times, but they were very much made up in the special and unique things that he did for her. His love for her was unconditional and one-of-a-kind. He loved to dance with her and joke about crazy things. He loved it when he made my mom happy. He enjoyed being around her and experiencing life together.
His children were a special part of his life and he went out of his way to care for them, give them what they needed or wanted. He cherished us and enjoyed the fact that each one of us carried on his love of family.
My father lived through many adventurous experiences that I remembered. He outran a mountain lion in Shelton, Washington when he lived in a cabin that he had built himself. He avoided getting struck by lightning on a lake while fishing with me…also in Shelton, Washington. He survived the sinking of his fishing boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico outside of Florida; the fishing boat that he also built. He survived many heart attacks. My father was a courageous fighter for life and all it brought him.
My father was perhaps the greatest worker I had ever known. He amazed not just myself and my friends, but his friends as well, at how skilled and knowledgeable he was. He was a carpenter, boat maker, and fisherman. Throughout his life he had built homes, apartments, office buildings, libraries, extensions, boats, ships. My family lived on a house boat, “The Red Baron”, in Long Beach, California that he had built himself. It was a beautiful big boat. He had built the deep sea fishing boat that he frequently used to stay out in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks at a time to help support his family. He reminded me at times of the noble Weathered Fisherman. I love this image.
He was draftsman, plumber, electrician, carpenter, cement and brick layer, roofer, painter, sculptor, boat maker, car mechanic, A/C technician, walking library, lumberjack, gardener, Boy Scout Troop Leader, husband, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and friend. No other person I have known in my life can lay claim to so many skills, careers, and the like. Nor can I say that I will ever meet another person in my life like my father. He was a real-life Renaissance Man.
Among other things, my own love of the outdoors, my love of animals, my love of clipper ships and tall ships, my love of building, taking apart, and exploring things, my love of science, my love of not worshipping material thing, my love of democracy and caring for my fellow human being, my love of the future…all of these things can be traced back to this wonderful, loving, bigger-than-life person that was my father. A human being that may no longer be in one place anymore, but instead will live on all around and within us. He is still with us; we all carry my father, Frank Maybusher, with us in everything we do…because he was life itself.
I Love You, Dad
My father passed away from heart failure October 10th, 2009 at about 2pm at his home in New Port Richey, Florida. He was 69 years old.
Dad, I will not say goodbye anymore, because you are still with me and I will always Love you for that…but I will continue to say Thank You For Life