I was reminded by relatives via Facebook that I'd lost my dad 7 years ago, yesterday. But really, I'd lost him about 5 or 6 years before when he went into a care center.
He was a man's man. Not a wuss, and not afraid of anything, except blood. At the sight of blood, well, he'd hit the floor. The very idea makes me chuckle. My dad passing out? No way!
He stood at 6 foot, had the bluest eyes, and black hair. He always drove a Ford truck because, well duh, the rest just couldn't be trusted. He worked on race cars for area racers back in the '70s here in Vinton. He painted our house purple because my mom answered the question, "What's your favorite color?"
He started out working at Wilson's meatpacking plant, then he got on the wrong side of the union, so he left for Iowa Manufacturing which later because Terex, they built rock crushers to build roads. After a round of layoffs, he took up trucking. First driving for an acquaintance, hauling grain and hay. Later he took up commercial truck driving from here to the east coast, until he just couldn't drive any longer.
He cut wood all summer long so that in the winter he could crank our wood stove up to 90 degrees and sometimes hotter. It took years for my body to adjust to the idea that 70 degrees in the winter was "warm enough." He built a saw that attached to an old tractor, I don't know how many forests we cut down together.
He could fix anything large or small. Had he gone to college I'm sure he would have aced his classes. There wasn't anything that he didn't know.
Most nights when he was home he'd fall asleep in his recliner with his bible open in his lap and a stack of newspapers next to his chair. He'd drive his semi from Sunday night until the following Saturday. Sometimes he'd roll in at 5 or 6 on a Sunday morning and get up for church at 9:30.
He drove through a blizzard to get to church, only to find out that the people that lived near the church had canceled it.
He bought a small house then built on a 2 story addition, that still stands today. He taught me what a plumb line was while I "helped" him build our chimney. I tagged along as he went to McDowell's probably most Saturdays. He taught me how to hang sheetrock and what "mudding" was. He always said that his daughters would know how to tear down and put a car together before we could drive, but he was never home long enough to pass along that knowledge. Just the little that he did teach me I found intimidated the boys back in the day. Often I'd get a look and sneer with " how do YOU know what's wrong?
He sacrificed for his family, providing all of the tuition, spending money, various fees a competitive kid needed to get through school and college. Not once did I think I couldn't do something that I really wanted to do.
He never met a stranger.
He took care of his dad and mom after he started working. Dropping off money after he left home to help take care of his younger brother and sisters. He often saw a need in the community, in the church or with a relative and shared his money with anyone he could.
He wasn't a rich man, rarely did we go out to eat. We never drove a new car, well, he had one once. For a few days, I believe. He ordered a red Ford, of course, complete with the "police package" motor. It would have been the late 60's early 70's. There is a picture of me standing next to him and the car and we were washing it. He wrecked the car backing out after getting an ice cream cone. He said he figured the Lord was telling him that he was getting too proud of that car. That was the last time he ever bought a new car.
He scrimped and saved to take care of him and my mom in their old age. Then he got sick. The government in all of their wisdom said that all of his savings needed to be spent before they would help. I get that. Except, that left my mom with nothing. Something he would have been angry about if he had understood.
He left behind 2 daughters that still miss him dearly. However, I see him in my kids. I see him in my sons. One came to blow snow at 5:00 a.m. last winter for his sister and is now helping her to restore an old house. That is so like my dad. I saw it in the first truck one of the daughters bought, and it HAD to be a Ford. I see it in the work ethic of all of my kids.
I inherited his, keep every scrap of sentimental paper that there is, and a scrapbooking project/genealogy collection has taken over one wall in file cabinets. I also inherited his desire to take pictures. I have albums from college...to now tons on Facebook.
So as another anniversary passes, I realize it's not really so much the date that matters, it's how you teach your kids. It will then be passed along to the grandkids. And I suspect, on to great-grandkids.
You can't teach a man to be a man, he has to want to be a man. I'm a little biased about what that means, but then, I grew up with one for a dad. He took his job as protector seriously. He gave the security that the three women in his life, his wife and 2 daughters needed. He showed us how it was supposed to be done.
A man of his word has been the trait that has carried down to my kids, sometimes frustrating me the most. Especially when they are in a situation that isn't treating them well. But then, I saw that in my dad as well. And, I guess I learned it from him. Thanks, daddy, for everything. Thanks for showing me what a real man looks like. But most of all, thanks for being the best dad a girl could ever have. While I really don't feel the need to recognize that you were here, I recognize that bits of you are still here. The good bits. But then, I can't really remember the bad if there were any.