I’ve read a few posts on Dads and Father’s Day. Klove radio was asking all week what you remembered learning from your father. It got me to thinking. My dad died right before my 40th birthday, so it has been 22 years ago. The memories are jumbled and random. My strongest memory about my dad was how intimidated he made me feel. He had a temper and I remember once he put his fist into a wall, but he never once touched any of us or Mom. He had an almost-genius IQ and an almost photographic memory. He loved to read, but could never read a book twice because he remembered everything he read. I remember we loved asking him questions about our homework. We knew we could ask him anything and he’d be able to tell us a short story or lecture about the subject. It was a mixed blessing. Sometimes our eyes would glaze over because we just wanted the easy answer and we’d get the long version. It took him awhile, but he eventually caught on to what we were doing and when we asked a question, he’d say “Look it up in the dictionary.” I remember that grammar and correct pronunciation was important to him. We would say ‘worsh’ instead of ‘wash’ and it would garner a correction. There were 4 kids in our family and today we would be considered lower class. We had our needs met, but didn’t have a lot of extras. We always seemed to have plenty of food to eat and were happy, so that says a lot. We managed to go on several vacations as a family. I remember walking around the top of a volcano as a child, the wind blowing at me while clutching Daddy’s hand. I don’t remember going to the movies as a family or out to eat. Our fun thing to do, was to go buy several loaves of day-old bread from the store and going to the park to feed the ducks. We would pull off small pieces of the bread and toss them at the ducks and soon would be surrounded by them, each one eager to get a piece. I remember Daddy bought a really old truck or car one time. I can’t even remember which it was, but it was so old there was a small hole in the metal of the front floor board where you could see the pavement as we drove. It was the coolest car. One thing Daddy loved was mincemeat or a strawberry rhubarb pie. He would bake them himself. The first time he baked his rhubarb pie, he told us it was a cherry pie. When we tasted it, we scrunched up our faces and went “Eeow”. Does anyone really like rhubarb? I remember his dry sense of humor. We would ask for him to ‘pass the butter’ at the supper table, and when we reached out our hand, he would reach over and smear a bit of butter on the back of our hands. I remember as a child that Daddy had a job that took us all over the country, it seemed. From the time I started school until the 5th grade, we sometimes moved two or three times a year. It made it hard to start school fresh with no friends and being the new kid. I grew up very insecure and withdrawn. When I was older Mom told me how he had lost this job when he was in his 40’s. He had been a ‘trouble shooter’ for a loan company. He would be sent to another city to ‘fix’ the problems at their loan company. He was later fired for moral reasons. There was some company practice he didn’t agree with. He felt the company was mistreating or exploiting some of their clients and spoke up about it telling them it was immoral and wrong. That’s when he joined the unemployed. I remember years on end when he would get dressed up in his suit and tie, and go out to look for work. Being over 40 was not a good time to be looking for work. Companies hiring for work he was good at, were always looking for the young, newly graduated from college. I remember I was married for several years before I ever saw him wear a pair of tennis shoes instead of dress shoes. I remember typing his resume for him. He hid his frustration and disappointment from us and finally settled for working in a gas station. Back then, he made $50 a week pumping gas. I know he did this because he was tired of letting his wife support us with her job as an RN, but it was a constant struggle for him. When he later worked for the City, it was more of the same. He had to work with men, some of whom never finished the eighth grade. It took an emotional toll on him. He confided once that he had wanted to become a lawyer when he was younger. I told him, that he was not too old to go back to school, but he felt it was too late for him. When he could retire from the City, he couldn’t handle retirement, and became a long-haul trucker for a few years before his death. I have older memories of him sitting in his chair in the evenings, reading the Bible. He loved giving to charities, and they were usually to protect the environment or protect our resources. The weekend before he died, he called to check up on my brother, asking me if I thought he was ‘doing okay’ working at the Pizza Hut and would be able to take care of himself. I assured him brother was doing alright. It was almost as if he was putting his ‘things in order’. He had a heart attack at the courthouse a few days later when he reported for jury duty and died instantly. I later heard about the woman who had tried to do CPR on him. She was so upset she hadn’t been able to revive him, saying, “He didn’t need to be here!” He was past the age you were required to serve as a juror, but he thought it was important to ‘do his civic duty.’
Trying to think back and summarize what he had taught me as a child, brought on these jumbled memories. I suppose the important ones were loving God, the importance of honesty in every thing you do, and learning to love reading. After all, He was my Daddy.