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Driving home from one of those funeral duties, Dean and I talked about our dads, and how neither of them had much, but they were the best dad that a kid could ask for.

I hadn't thought about that aspect since, well, Father's Day. Tonight I talked with some of our family about what makes a good dad.

For years I had always respected this one guy. He was basically a good guy, fun to be around, seemed to be pretty quiet, and I just had a lot of respect for him.

Then we talked about his parenting skills.

For the first time in 40 years, I realized this guy may have been great, but he was one lousy father.

I've seen other fathers who had all the money in the world, but no time for their kids.

We have family stories of a grandpa who had to have a horse whip taken to him by his wife, after he continued to show up home drunk in his buggy, and broke from spending his paycheck at the bar while his family suffered at home. Needless to say, that seemed to get his attention, because he never did it again.

I can't say any of these things resemble the dad that I had.

I can't say I never realized how important it was to have and to be a great dad to your kids until I lost mine. Until I realized that my memories of him were 99.9% all good.

That's not to say they were all fun, but they were good ones.

He was sick for the last 20 years with various problems often resulting in him not being himself.

Sometimes it was hard to remember who my dad was, through the fog of the events surrounding us.

But as I look back, he poured himself into our lives when we were kids.

As soon as he came home at night, our world revolved around daddy. At 4:30 every day, we waited at the end of the driveway for his car to pull up. He never brushed us aside or got angry that he didn't have any "me time". As far as we knew, when he got home, it was now US TIME!

We'd carry his lunch pail in and open the lid to see if there were any goodies left from lunch, or to see if he brought us something in his pail.

The factory he worked in had metal shavings on the floor that he would have to remove from the bottom of his shoes with a pair of needle nosed pliers. He would patiently sit with his foot on his knee and help us grip the tiny pieces in the bottom of his shoe, then carefully place it in the garbage.

There was a time he brought home some magnets and some fine metal shavings then showed us how they stuck together. It was my first science lesson, because then he explained why the magnets wouldn't stick together on certain ends.

I remember especially when I was struggling through fractions, he became my math teacher. He would patiently sit and explain then re-explain then try a different approach and then say it all over again until I sort of got it.

Our wake up call on Saturday morning was something like this. "It's time to get up now! The Bible says a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands and the house falls in!" that was the DS version.

On Sunday we got an off key version of "Wake up, wake up you sleepy head, it's time to learn the golden rule, when the church bells go ding dong, ding dong, it's time to be on your way, so WAKE UP, WAKE UP you sleepy head, it's Sunday School again!"

I always found that soooooooooooo annoying. It's probably why I always tried to gently wake my kids up. (and then there's Dean's morning routine)

Every car ride had my dad singing loudly, off key and my mom singing along trying to get the tune right for him, and we'd eventually join in...I suppose that's probably why I think a lot in song, or have music pop into my head in response to situations.

On Saturdays as soon as we were up, unless he was doing something kids absolutely could NOT participate in, we tagged along.

We went to the lumberyard, where he'd get wood for the addition he was building. This took FOREVER. He had to have the right piece, not warped, no knot holes, the grain had to look just right, the side of the board had to be a certain way it just had to be the perfect everything. Of course, knowing my dad, it was probably a clearance aisle he was shopping in. (Which reminds me of the sheetrock in our bathroom with tire tracks on it)

When he put in a wood stove, we "helped" dig a hole for the base, he explained the whole time how this chimney was going to be built. Then it came time to mix the cement. He explained how you needed just enough water, not too much, not too little, and stay away and don't breathe in the dust, and after that we watched as he slapped it on the huge square bricks that were made to house a stovepipe. It was the first time I heard the phrase plumb line, then the definition. He was my Google in dad form.

Then turned science guy again as he explained how it worked.

Then I met the level. I remember the fascination I had with the bubble and how that made all the difference.

To this day, I drive Dean nuts explaining how things should be fixed, and his reply is "How do YOU know, you've never fixed one." and then I wonder how I do know, and usually it's because I tagged along with my dad and must've asked him a billion questions.

So as we start to say our final goodbyes tonight and tomorrow morning, I realize how I won the lottery.

I didn't know it at the time, but age and loss make you wiser.

God blessed me with a daddy that loved me, carried me on his shoulders, gave me horsie back rides, wrestled with me, helped me to build snowmen, tricked out my tricycles, bikes and car, took me in his semi when he could, loaded me in his pickup and then made sure I was set to leave for college, packing in all the essentials that a girls would need. You know, oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, a funnel, jumper cables, he made sure my CB radio worked and instructed me that if I got lost to get on 1-9 and ask for directions because "they will know how to get you there!"

Until his later years, I don't remember hearing, "I love you" from him unless we prompted him first.

But there wasn't one time I ever questioned his love.

He wasn't a ladies' man, for sure, but he was and always will be, THIS ladies' man.



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