Dad, father, pops…its your day to kick back, relax, crack open a cold one, and let the kids take care of you for a day. A previous post was a brief introduction to my dad…this is the sequel!
My dad is the strong, silent type – high expectations and a soft spot for children and animals. At first meeting he’s perhaps a bit gruff, but most are quickly won over by his sense of humour. In no time he is offering to bring you some raspberries from his garden, or chatting with you about some random lawn/gardening issue (in the summer that is…)… usually something about fertilizer or weed killer, but most often he is asking about your family.
He is that dad who makes an effort to get to know your friends, greeting them whenever he sees them around town (he keeps in better touch with my childhood friends than I do), and is always as proud of them as he is of his own children. At 81 years of age he still shuttles neighbourhood children to vacation bible school at their church (its like Sunday school but during in the summer) – in fact, some kids refuse to go if he doesn’t drive them! And up until his knee replacement this past winter, he would take care of the neighbourhood in the winter, snow blowing the sidewalks and driveways of every elderly couple/individuals on the block. Taking care of others seems to be what he does…my mom, her sisters, his brothers and relatives, the neighbourhood, and the community. The college students who live next door to my folks have a particularly special appreciation for his overseeing of the neighbourhood…(lol!).
Stories about his childhood are always interesting and funny. Like the time that his cousins decided to take a part a car and put it back together up on the roof of the barn (a really huge barn)… yes, on the roof! Or his stories of working on the railroad, traveling the country in boxcars or in the caboose of the old trains and laying down new rail lines. One of my favorite stories is about how he worked at a local roller (skating) rink as a supervisor and found that he loved skating (and was really quite good at it)! When we were little he used to take us kids to our local roller rink (Bud’s Roller Rink) to go skating on weekends – they had one of those cool Wurlitzer organs that Bud’s wife would come out
to play it whenever someone had a birthday at the rink. Dad would skate with us when we were little… I think he still has those old skates that he used to wear. I loved skating with my dad…
In classic dad form, he hosted the annual family slide show at any and every family event. The slides and all the gear that goes with them still exist, but the show doesn’t happen quite as often anymore. As hard as it was to be patient through that slide show – it was the best! We all harassed each other about how dorky we looked (my brothers and I that is, never mom or dad) and I complained about how they took all the cool trips before I was born. The best part was the stories that went along with all of it. Stories about how mom and dad met, the different trips taken as a family, the different homes they’d all lived in (they still live in the house I grew up in) and various events in the history of our family. Somehow the story about how he used to hunt pheasants in the backyard of one of their homes always comes up. It was our family history, right there in front of us on the screen, in the middle of our living room.
Woven into his many stories is a hard childhood – his mom died when he was around 10 yrs old, money was scarce, and therefore work came before education. Age has given me the gift of clarity and I now see how hard he has worked to give our family everything the he did not have as a child. Thanks dad, for being there when I needed you (even when I didn’t want to admit that I needed you) and for being my biggest supporter regardless of what crazy decisions and
choices I have made in life.
Dad, I think you can kick back and relax with a cold one, you did it – you (and mom) created a family history [a legacy] to be proud of and wonderful memories will be cherished for life.
Looking forward to cooking the next holiday turkey with you Pop…love ya!