I have been thinking a lot of my Dad lately, which isn't too unusual because reminders of him are everywhere, and I think about him all the time. I have especially been wanting to start blogging about him and his life, his life though my eyes anyway. So here is my first story...
Thomas Andrew Richard Lensing Sr., or T.A. as he was so lovingly called (Richard was his confirmation saint name), was born on March 6, 1928, and died on August 19, 2010. A lot of life was lived in those 82 years and I have been having a hard time trying to decide where to begin. That is why you have not heard from me in a while...there are so many memories, so many stories, and so much to say about him that I have developed a serious case of writer's block. I just do not know where to start.
So I decided to start with a photo, two photos in fact. The first one is Dad, in about 1939 or 1940 with his pet white rabbit.
He mentioned this rabbit off and on all his life so it must have been a special pet. Too bad I never asked him if the rabbit had a name... . The only thing I remember hearing about it, other than how much he must have loved it, is how it died...a cat got him. Since I have two indoor cats that I absolutely adore, we will not dwell on that.
Suffice it to say, Dad loved his white rabbit and rabbits in general all his life, which brings to mind a few other memories I have of Dad and rabbits that I want to share.
Dad grew fabulous tomato gardens and he would sometimes plant lettuce, cucumbers, and other wonderful vegetables there. Every summer, every year of my life, as far back as I can remember, he grew tomato/vegetable gardens. And they were organically grown: no pesticides or other poisonous substances were used...he didn't want to kill the birds or other animals visitors he had to his garden. Although he never entered his tomatoes in prize winning contests, I am here to tell you they were one of a kind delicious! If I remember correctly, he usually grew a type called Better Boys. They were big, red, and juicy, and It just wasn't summer without them.
I guess I have drifted off topic from the rabbits so I'll get back on it. Dad's vegetable garden is a blog unto itself for a later date.
There were several wild bunny visitors to his garden over the years and he had to do something to keep them from eating away all of his luscious summer delicacies. So, a plan was hatched (no pun intended). Giving my Dad's love of rabbits, killing them was totally out of the question. So he went to the trouble of relocating them. He would put out live traps and catch them, then take them to a wooded area where there were other rabbits and where he knew they would be OK. That was my Dad, he had a big heart for nature and wild things and I am so proud of him for that.
My other memory is of a little toy white rabbit that Dad had when he was a little boy. This rabbit was made of plaster and about 4.75 inches tall. The little guy stood up on his two hind legs, wore a vest, a dress coat with tails and a tie around his neck. He is a rabbit dressed like a little man - a dashing little man at that. How do I remember such detail? I have it here with me as I type.
Dad acquired this cute little toy, according to Mom, way back when he was a boy growing up in the family home in Scranton, probably for his birthday one year. Now one needs to remember that back in the 1930s, children didn't get the hords of toys that kids do now for birthdays and holidays. So this was a special toy for Dad, maybe one of the very few he received.
He told me that he put this rabbit up in the front window of the attic of his home one year, and the little guy sat up there in that same spot, looking out, until the home was sold many decades later. He remembered that little rabbit all those years, went up to retrieve it and brought it to his home in Little Rock where it was kept until he died.
Mom gave it to me because I did a little plastic surgery on the bunny one year that Dad was so happy with. As old as that little piece of plaster was, it held its shape pretty good but the painting was mostly worn off. So, I took paint to brush one day and gussied that little rabbit up with a new white body, newly painted suit and a new tie around his neck. My choice of colors for the suit and tie were probably a little different than what was originally there, but I digress again.
Dad was so pleased that he thanked me with a big smile on his face. Mom remembered that and gave it to me after Dad passed away and I'll treasure it always. Sometimes when I'm holding it and looking at it I think of the smiling little boy and how his little fingers held it way back then, over 75 years ago. I don't know which came first, the live white rabbit or the toy white rabbit, but one thing I do know is that Daddy loved them both.