Today, April 11, I’m thinking about my dad. Since I wrote about Mom on her birthday last November, I thought today I’d share a few memories about the man whose “larger-than-life” personality dominated my early years and whose loving example still influences me today.
Marion Edmond Mischler (everyone called him “Misch”) was born in Vincennes, Indiana, on April 11, 1911. Today’s date is also significant, because on April 11, 1992—Easter Sunday that year—my sister Cathy and I scattered Daddy’s ashes in Caddo Lake, north of Shreveport, Louisiana. This was a favorite fishing spot for Dad, who would row out onto the lake every chance he got, pull in a couple of nice bass, bring them home, clean and filet them, and pan fry them for supper.
Fishing was a lifelong hobby. Before moving to Shreveport in 1953, we lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and I can remember many a Sunday afternoon, he’d load all of us into our 1939 Mercury and off we’d go to Prairie Lee Lake. Mother would rest and read, and Cathy and I would play around the picnic grounds while Daddy stepped down to the lake with his rod and reel.
Daddy was a Y.M.C.A. executive his entire career. As a youth, he became active in the “Y” in Chicago during the late 1920s where he worked in the community with other young people who were caught up in street gangs. Daddy talked about how he often met with Al Capone, even in his home for dinner, where Dad would discuss how particular programs and sports activities sponsored by the “Y” could help the boys escape their dangerous life on the streets. Al was hospitable and supported Dad’s efforts.
When we moved to Kansas City, Dad served as the Northeast Y.M.C.A. executive secretary. I remember he would take me on field trips with the young boys to exciting places like Swope Park Zoo. I would be the only little girl on the bus! I wondered if he sometimes wished he had a son, but he always seemed quite happy to have his daughter along on these trips.
My dad believed in strict discipline—he only had to tell Cathy and me one time to stop our quarreling or to come home from playing with our friends at a certain hour. If we disobeyed, he would spank us—never with a belt or a switch, but with a firm hand as we bent across his lap. However, Daddy played with us, too. We would go bicycle riding together. I can also remember he would help us construct homemade kites, and our family would have a great time flying them high on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.
Dad was a faithful elder and teacher in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. all his life. He had an outgoing personality and often played a strong leadership role in the church and in the community. People looked to Dad for wisdom and strength.
In his later years, he took charge of Mom as she dealt with Alzheimer’s Disease, structuring her day and attending to all her needs. With his guitar, Dad loved to lead group singing at local nursing homes, and he would take my mother along. Amazingly, she remembered all the words to the “golden oldies,” and he seemed delighted that music could help her find enjoyment when all else seemed so bleak.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I will always love you.