Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

     My poor father thinks I will have nothing to say about him in a blog. Well, that is not true! I have plenty to say! I just need to delete 3 of the 4 pages to keep it positive. LOL! Sorry Dad. 
     My sister and I grew up poor. We didn't know it until we were adults because the lack of money had zero effect on us. Sometimes, it was even better than having that silver spoon. I remember living in a dump in Springfield, Missouri. It was teeny tiny. My sister and I rode tricycles all over the house because nothing could ruin the house more then it already was. We had to take baths in the kitchen sink because there was no shower or bath tub. Thats right. The kitchen sink was even my parents bath tub. We did not live there for very long but I remember having a great time in that dumpy house. I think we even found my new mattress in the neighbors garbage there too. I loved that mattress. The yellow stain around the teal colored flowers were a beautiful combination. I remember grinning from ear to ear when I saw it lying on the curb. As a matter of fact, I'm remembering a few other belongings that came from dump sites. What treasures they were!
     I know that my dad has another life that I know nothing about. He has never spoken about his work or who he worked with. He just left in the morning, leaving my room smelling of diesel fuel,  and came back in the evening.  I do remember coming home from school one day and my mom stopped me before I went inside. She told me that Dad got laid off  today and to be sensitive. I felt so bad for him! He had struggled to support his little family for such a long time. I knew that he was having difficulty with his job but he would never admit to it. Like my mom, he never would say a cross word about anyone...except liberal politicians...then, it can get ugly. Don't mention Carter, Clinton or Obama. And for the love of God, don't tell him he looks like Jimmy Carter. He has been mistaken for him several times. Well, don't worry dad. You look much more like Bill Clinton then Jimmy Carter.
     Our little family moved 13 times in my first 12 years of life. It was difficult for my dad to find a steady job but he finally settled at the Army Corp of Engineers where he retired. What is important here is that all of this stress, uncertainty, moving and making new friends meant nothing to me or my sister. Now, I can't say that about my parents. I'm sure they felt every bit of the hardships but it never trickled down to us. They never shared "adult" issues with us. They were our foundation.  As long as we had each other, that is all we needed. When I see families struggle because of natural disasters, I never feel bad for the children. I know that sounds awful but it is because of my own memories as a child. If I had my parents, nothing else mattered. I did not need the toys or friends. I had my family. Every move was a new adventure. Fortunately, we never ate in a soup kitchen but I'm sure I would have been excited about that too.  Hearing stories about kids being separated from their family is what would break my heart.
     My dad was not the religious or spiritual leader of the home but he was the leader in matter of morals. He does not have one deceptive bone in his body. He walks the straight and narrow path at all times. If he found a dollar in the middle of the highway, he would give every effort to find its owner before giving it away to charity. Even if he were poor, hungry and broke, he would never spend even a nickel of money that he didn't earn. If a pop machine gave him 2 pops on accident, he would slip in more money to make it right. What an example for us kids. I'm sure he's rolling his eye's right now and wondering why I didn't follow this example. An extra pop is..."JACKPOT" to me. But, I think of my dad every time I am tempted...sigh, and then drink my extra pop. Typing this blog is making me realize all the times I've cut corners to save money that would be morally questionable. Whenever I question whether I'm stealing or not, I ask him.  Sometimes, I need a little clarity from the one who has walked this path for many, many years.
     Since my dad has retired, he has been the Chemistry and Physics teacher for my homeschool group. Everything I believed about my dad changed when I became one of his students one year. He is a GOOD teacher. Wow. I can't believe how good and thorough and patient he is with all of his students. And, my dad is SMART! Wow again. He asks for nothing in return. He is at the service of anyone who asks and for as long as necessary.  He's been doing this for the homeschool community for 5 years and he hasn't had any of his grandchildren as his students yet. He gets Nick next year for Physics. Yes, I'm nervous. Why am I nervous? Well, my dad has his own special.... quirks?? that, thank GOD, he only exposes to family. Sometimes, "family" is around other people and, well, we get nervous. One quirk is that he still thinks I'm 5 years old. He still talks to me like I'm 5. He pats me on the head and baby talks me frequently. My kids love it but I would prefer that he refrain from this behavior in front of my friends. LOL. My kids can easily provoke him to sing his "Got No Pants On" song wherever we are. I hide my face in restaurants when he does this. His most unusually quirk is picking up 2 writing utensils and making them fight with each other. Another WOW moment. Yes, he will have 2 pens going at it with sound effects to accompany it. This was normal for me growing up. I didn't even think it was weird until I was an adult.  On a positive note, when people meet my dad, they have a better understanding where I got my social skills and are more sensitive and kind to me.
     I have a fond memory of my dad that I want to share. It may not sound like much but it is my memory that my father cared about me and I keep it so close to my heart. My old, old, old ugly record player broke. I listened to all my favorite records on that player. The Singing Nun, Weird Al Yankovich, Michael Jackson, Grease, every musical ever made (Oklahoma, South Pacific, Music Man, Sound of Music, etc, etc.). I hear laughter. Stop it. This was very important to me! I was crying quietly in my bed when my dad comes in to ask me what was wrong. I tried to collect myself enough to tell him through my gasps of air about my broken record player. He felt sorry for me for the first time in his life. He pet me on the back and said something nice. I wish I could remember what it was. The next day was Sunday. Mom, my sister and I went to Mass. When I came home, my dad was in my room. That has NEVER happened before. I was shocked to see him walk out of my door and toward me. I was angry. I thought he was invading my privacy. I went in there to see a brand new record player on my dresser. It was new! From the store! It was black and new. It had two of its own separate speakers. It was NEW. From the store.  I was so happy! Not only was it the nicest gift I had ever gotten but it was from my dad and it was his idea. It wasn't even Christmas, or my birthday. And it was new. I'm tearing up. My dad cared about me. That was enough.

Dad has dry ice in his mouth. The boys are getting a kick out of Grandpa talking with smoke coming out of his mouth and nose.

Grandpa is taking his granddaughters to the Father/Daughter dance. Daddy was out of town.

Grandpa stepped in for Roy every time he had to leave for Army. Grandpa was very busy when Roy was in Kuwait for 18 months. VERY busy!
     Don't misunderstand. I have other fond, yet simple, memories.
         - Dad would ride his bike with us girls to the local airport to take us for rides in his plane. He would stop at the ice cream shop and let us have the LARGE ice cream cone on the way. It was bigger- then -my- face kind of large.
         -Dad let me skip an accordion lesson to watch an episode of the "V" tv series. Yes, that was a FOND memory. My sister understands. LOL
         - Dad patiently helped me with every Calculus and Chemistry problem I had in High School and College
        - Dad always bought my Christmas and birthday presents himself. He never let Mom buy it and then take credit for it. On the subject of presents. My Dad buys me what I like to call, post partum pills, after every baby.  They are gigantic malt balls. When I felt alone and sad and on the verge of tears after my 3rd baby was born, I popped one of those in my mouth and the emotions instantly disappeared and were replaced with wonder and delight.  He's been buying them for me ever since. They work like a charm.

See Dad? I have plenty to say. As I look back on my childhood, I know for certain that my dad tried his best. He wanted to be a good father, had his idea's on what a good father was supposed to do and say, and he did it. That is what every good father does.


1 comment:

  1. Katy I just adore your dad! He is an amazing man. I have really enjoyed reading this post about him and how you all grew up. Sure explains a lot! JUST KIDDING! You all are fantastic. You are a treasure to your dad!