This is a Father’s Day Sunday Snapshot post in honor of my dad. I’m fortunate to have my dad alive and kicking and can let him know often how he’s shaped my life and the lives of my siblings.
This is my dad and me at a graduation party last year. It was one of those rare occasions when most of us were able to get together and celebrate as a family. Dad raised all of us to be strong, independent, and to work hard towards our goals. It’s probably one of the reasons all of my siblings are in different areas of the United States. We cherish the times we come together as a family. Dad is half the glue (my mom the other half) which keeps us all up to date with one another.
My dad and mom married when I was three. Although he certainly didn’t need to, he legally adopted me as his daughter and officially added me as one of his children. He stepped up because my biological father didn’t desire the financial or emotional responsibility to help raise me. My REAL dad gave me his last name and took me into the fold as his own. It was an unselfish action I couldn’t fully appreciate until I was older and wiser.
We certainly aren’t a Beaver Cleaver family and are as dysfunctional and unique as they come. We are perfectly imperfect and have overcome many challenges, and probably have a few more in us to work through. Like everyone, my parents are human and have dealt with issues most (hopefully) never have to endure. This is a picture below, taken around 1979, a year or so after losing multiple siblings in a house fire and car accident. Behind the smiles was a family deeply entrenched in mourning, but we were working on gaining a new normal. My mom and dad would later go their separate ways and my siblings would follow their own paths, but we still remain a close family.
My dad is actually quite admirable. He became a father and married in his early teens (imagine yourself at 14) and had four children before his teenage years were completed (let that sink in). He successfully supported his family by quitting school and working hard as a mechanic. Later, he obtained his GED and starting teaching auto/diesel mechanics at a local technical college, and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree while instructing full time, farming part time, and raising a family. He is well respected at the college he retired from and the countless students he has taught over the years. Currently, at age 75, he is teaching shop and mechanics at the high school level. He and my stepmother bought a fixer-upper house and made it into a beautiful showcase home by doing every single one of the upgrades themselves.
When I was younger (way back in the 70s), my dad was president of a local CB club and one of their charities was The Teddy Bear fund. This fund helped supply the local hospitals with new stuffed animals for pediatric patients. Dad (photo below) was on the local TV channel taking donations. A couple of years later, after a car accident, I received one of those teddy bears and still have it today.
My dad and mom were united when it came to teaching us the important values in life (to see what they didn’t teach me, click HERE) and backed each other up no matter what. Dad made sure we prayed before our meals and taught us gratitude. He didn’t tolerate talking back, being lied to, and expected nothing less than complete compliance when he made a request. He did not spare the rod, and (in my opinion), we are better humans because he was a strong disciplinarian (and a creative one, as per this post HERE). He could be gruff and demanding, but we always knew we were loved.
I remember one instance I thought Dad was being extremely unreasonable. My friends and I had tickets to see the Rolling Stones. I wasn’t a particular fan of the band, but I was excited to experience the concert with my high school peeps. At the last minute, my dad told me there was no way I was going. His tone of voice and demeanor halted any begging or pleading, and I was confused because there didn’t seem to be a valid reason. In the middle of the night, we received a phone call with news my friends were in a car accident on the way home with one fatality and three seriously injured. My dad just KNEW. His instincts have always been spot on.
One of our family chores in the late summer and early fall months was to cut and stack wood for the winter to use in our wood-burning stove in preparation for the cold Ohio winters. After days of splitting and stacking, Dad would fill the pickup truck and take my brother to make several deliveries to the elderly in our country community. On one such occasion, an older woman from our church offered my brother money for his help in stacking the wood. My dad shook his head so my brother said, “No, thank you.” When they returned to the pickup, Dad told my brother, “Sometimes we do things because it’s the right thing to do without expecting anything in return.” Dad still lives by that standard and is always willing to help a neighbor in need.
Although my dad and I have not always seen eye to eye and went quite a few years with a rocky relationship, we have mended those fences and become closer in the last few years. I cherish the conversations I have with him and take all of his wisdom and advice to heart. In the photo below, Dad was patiently waiting on my sister and me to figure out the best selfie angle.
I’m thankful for all the things my dad is still teaching me. Kindness, generosity, humility, toughness, the importance of family, belonging, work ethic, how to bounce back from mistakes, to handle hardships with grace, taking personal responsibility, survival, and (more importantly) how to strive to improve as a human being with each and every new day. I have so much work to do in each of those areas, but I have a good example to follow from a more seasoned pro.
Thank you, Dad. I love you, so much more.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, especially the ones who are dads by choice and not necessarily by biology.
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