Writers Note: Part of this was originally written in 2000 when my parents celebrated their 50th Anniversary. More was written in 2009 when Dad turned 80. This version includes pieces of both those original writings with another year of gratitude included.
For several years I had the pleasure of working with my Dad in the metal fabrication trade. I had just finished high school and was ready to take on the world; during that time period, I received some of the best education about life and the working world from my Dad. He taught me what it meant to give an honest day’s work every day and to take pride in my workmanship. Dad’s enthusiasm and confidence in which he approached the job (especially when it was something that he hadn’t personally tackled before) taught me that anything is possible. I’ve adopted that trait and it’s given me the confidence and entrepreneurial spirit I’ve demonstrated throughout my career. Frequently when I am asked, “How did you learn how to do that?” the answer is simply, “My father taught me.” Thank You, Dad!
But bonding with my father started much earlier than my post-grad years?
At about age 5 I’d sit looking out the front window waiting for him to come home from work. I’d rush outside and carry in his lunchbox. At age 7, I remember Dad hitting the bell at the carnival hammer swing … I was amazed after muscle-bound 20-somethings failed just prior to him taking his swing. Or when I was 9 years old and standing in the outfield during little league, I’d always notice when he arrived for the final few innings … I’d know the exact moment he’d arrive! Or during family get-togethers, Dad would bring out his accordion and play music for hours.
Those are just a few of my memories of Jack as Dad … now let me tell you more about Jack the man.
My Dad was the oldest of 4 children … born the year the stock market crashed. He married my mother at age 22, and I was born when he was 30 years old, placing me in the middle of 5 children. He wasn’t formerly educated beyond high school but spent a lifetime learning and doing. He was especially interested in building things; he built several boats, a garage, an addition to the house and even a vacation home. He made repairs to appliances, bicycles, cars and just about anything that broke. Things didn’t get thrown away … they got fixed.
Some things you learn from active teaching, while some things you learn by quiet observation. I learned the true character of Jack through years of quiet observation, witnessing his steadfast and uncompromising character. I believe that is simply called respect.
My Dad was (and is) a true gentleman. He never said a negative word about my mother or his new wife, Amy. He taught me to not use profanity in front of women and children. He can carry on a conversation with children, adults, intellectuals or common folks … but he was mostly just common folk himself. He respected authority and didn’t take himself too seriously in his role of authority. He supported me and my insistence to take a path less traveled … he accepted my offbeat nature with mild amusement.
Jack was always a God fearing man and has become more active in the Church after his retirement. After Mom died he had the good sense to find the beautiful Amy … they’ll celebrate 7 years of marriage in October. They are both physically active and still enjoy venturing out for a few days in the motor home. Just this past winter Dad had a knee replaced and he made a project out of getting himself back in shape and he’s been mowing the lawn weekly since April. Of course into his 90th decade his garden isn’t as big as it used to be … but the vegetables still taste great.
Last year when we all got together to celebrate Dad’s 80th Birthday, my wise sister insisted that we all write 80 reasons we love Dad. We did and she put together a beautiful memory book. Many of the reasons why I love my father have already been mentioned, but I would like to share 10 more with you.
- Dad always looked for the good in situations … he’s an optimist!
- He loved me and all my siblings equally … despite the fact that it would have been very easy to pick me as his favorite
- He was (and is) a good Christian man and still active in the church: He’s taken care of his mind and soul. He taught me that helping others was what we did.
- We didn’t have a lot of heart-to-heart talks, but when we did … I listened and benefited from it.
- He moved his mother (Grandmom) into his house when she was unable to live alone at the end, and tenderly cared for my mother at the end of her life. Both without complaint.
- Memorial Day cookouts … a yearly tradition!
- Trips together to Home Depot to buy stuff for projects.
- He was a registered independent long before being an ‘independents’ became chic.
- Dad was smart enough to find Amy and start a new life chapter in his mid 70s
- Dad is an inspiration to me in patience and stick-to-it-ness … he knows how to finish a project
Dad, thanks for being a great father, a good friend, and a life-long inspiration … I Love You!
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