Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day thoughts

I miss my dad. He was a character and a tease, and could sometimes embarrass us, but he was also a fairly wise man. He knew quite a bit about what made people tick. I wish I could hear whatever advice he'd have for me right now. I've taken a rather unusual and bold turn in my life, and I could use his reassurance that I'm not getting in over my head.

What was one thing we could always count on with Dad. He believed in us kids. Even when he may have wanted to throttle us, he still could see our potential. When the first of us boys (not me) got brave enough to run a business on their own he was right there to cheer him on and help in whatever way he could. And he had more help to offer than we probably ever would have given him credit for.

I suspect most dads are not truly appreciated by their children--at least not until those children get children of their own. Now that I'm "grown up" and being a father myself I'm starting to see and appreciate what my father went through. Then I only saw that my dad worked most of the day and was too tired to do much when he got home. Now I realize that he wasn't doing that because he wanted to. He had an obligation to provide for his family, and he did it. He took whatever jobs he had to in order to do it.

For my Dad there was no such thing as the "ideal career path". He worked a farm, taught school, drove truck, sold vacuums and appliances, restocked stores, cleaned laundromats and churches, repaired sewing machines, and managed PE equipment. While he undoubtedly enjoyed some jobs more than others, he never took the attitude of, "I'm a _____, that's what I'm good at, and that's the only work I'll do."  If there was a job he could do, he would do it.

He volunteered a lot, too. He was PTA president for awhile. He was a scout leader. He was a scout committee chairman for a long, long time. He organized church libraries. He organized church fundraisers. He visited the elderly--something we are all often assigned to do in our church, but he took it quite seriously. I don't think he ever turned down a request to serve.

My dad was forty before I was even born. That just occurred to me. I supposed I knew that, but I just realized the significance of it. He was not exactly young anymore, and he was putting in twelve hour days before coming home to spend a few more hours fixing sewing machines. No wonder he wasn't exactly the most playful of dads. But I don't recall suffering for attention.

Anyway, I guess the bottom line is that my dad was a good man who worked hard for and loved his family. Unfortunately I took my time having a family of my own, so I didn't come to understand him very well until he was already gone. There is so much I would like to tell him now that is just going to have to wait. And I'm going to have to muddle through these changes in my life without the benefit of his wisdom, even though I'm positive he would understand exactly what I'm going through and would know just what to say.

I miss you, Dad. I love you. I'm sorry I didn't say it often enough.

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