Today marks a very special day in my life. It celebrates the birth of my father, without whom I would not be possible! Not only in my creation, but in the way that I am. I don’t get to say this to him often, especially as their is an ocean between us, but I appreciate him more and more each year.
My dad lived his life for his children and deserves the praises due. He taught us many lessons in his own unique way, like the day after a party when we found cigarettes on him. We were shocked. What? Our dad smokes? He never even swears (at least we never heard him). We confronted him with worry and he sat us all down at the dining table, each with a cigarette, an ashtray, and a pack of matches. He said to us “Do you want to smoke? Go ahead, now is your chance.” This was met with confusion on our part. Of course, no one would have dared to be the first one to say yes. In the end, he let us tear up those unsmoked cigarettes in ceremonial fashion almost as a vow to never start.
He only wanted what was best for us. He worked hard and gave us that hard work ethic as well. Sometimes I wish my husband would have picked up on the tinkering around the house and fixing things that needs to be fixed urge that lives within my father. My dad taught us all how to be comfortable with a screwdriver, a hammer, a paint brush, and even a bucket. My dad built the house we grew up in during our teen years and the landscaping was a job that spanned over a few years. He recruited us to pick up rocks and stones by the bucket full to ready the soil for grass. He actually paid us a nickel a bucket. That may have been my first paying job.
It was pretty much expected that we would all go off to college after high school graduation. I was always worrying about the financial affairs of paying for school and the burden it placed upon my parents. I tried to convince my dad that beauty school or the army was and option. Not that these are bad options, but they just weren’t the best options for my personality. He sent us all off to Penn State, which was a couple hour drive from our secluded hometown in rural Pennsylvania.
Driving twice a week to take us home for the weekend and back was something he did without a second thought. Five kids over a period from 1980 to 1989 traveled down those roads always in the passenger seat. These trips usually took place at night on winding highways where deer would cross without hesitation. I would stay awake next to him to keep my eye out for deer and for some odd reason, barns. We would point them out to each other more as a way to keep him from getting sleepy at the wheel. This was before the days of cupholders and Big Gulps and coffee to go at the gas station.
I moved farther away and now my trips home require a three to four hour drive from the airport to my little hometown. But my father has always gone the extra mile to pick me up and get me home with no hesitation whatsoever.
These days I am going through the terrible teens. Yes, that trying time of raising a teen and doing the best we can. With every new decision and obstacle to overcome, I appreciate my dad and the way he and my mother raised me. I hope I can live up to his example.
So if you see your dad today, tell him you love him. And if you see MY dad today, tell him I love him!