I can remember rushing to my mom's stationary drawer at 4:00 p.m. I was little...4, 5, 6? I'd go there often to write notes to my Dad, and when I saw his car working it's way down the street after work...I would actually hear it crunch first on the stones....I would burst out the door and run my little note to him as he got out of the car. I remember feeling shy about that bursting out the door. I can remember how he seemed tired after a long day, a long commute, but how he always had a smile as he took the note from my hands. I can feel the warm sun, the fresh evening air, I can smell the spaghetti cooking in the kitchen.
I can remember the time my Dad crushed his finger hammering shingles on the roof. I was scared to death, hearing him yell for help. I can picture his face, and the cloth diaper my mom had thrown up to him on the roof to stop the blood. I can feel the panicked, scared feeling in my stomach that made me want to run and hide.
I can remember the time it was my turn...a brick (yes, Katie, I still blame you) dropped on my finger from a picnic table, a burning pain, blood dripping, me screaming barefoot across the painful stones. My Dad grabbing me, running to the bathroom, another bloody cloth diaper (boy, those come in handy, don't they?), the cold water making it more painful. The discussion...ER or not? ER we go. I know it was a warm, beautiful summer evening, and somehow that made it all better. All the attention helped a little also. I knew I was safe, because my Dad was in charge. To me, he knew more than any fancy doctor.
I remember running out to visit my white pet bunny one cold spring morning, excited because my Dad had just spent the day before building a brand new fancy cage for her. I remember seeing the hole torn through the bottom of the cage, finding my poor dead bunny around the back of the garage. I remember wailing and running inside, and having my Mom and Dad panicked, "What? What?" I remember the look of absolute fury on my Dad's face because we knew right off the culprit was the big mean dog whose owners let him roam the neighborhood. I knew he would take care of it. The fact that he was as mad as I was sad, made me know he cared so much.
I can remember when I bought my first used car, a little Honda Accord...saving for that down payment, negotiating over the phone. I had no idea what I was doing and quite accidentally, because of pure desperation, I ended up negotiating a pretty good price. I remember knowing, somehow, maybe from a little chuckle from him, or the look in his eyes, that he was proud of me for that.
My Dad is quiet, kind, forgiving, sensible. A hard worker more than anything. A bootstrap kind of guy. I don't think he's asked anyone for anything in his life...an ounce of help, a request to borrow, a favor. He does it all himself, and never expected not to. He worked two jobs often to provide for his family. At the same time, I've never heard him turn down a request for help in my life. If there is work to be done, he works harder, faster, more efficient than anyone else, no matter what the job. He can clear a field, plant and tend a garden, build a house, fix anything.
And on top of that, I don't think I've ever heard my Dad complain once. Maybe sometimes about his knees, only because he's had surgery on both, and only after he does something like haul two 40 pound buckets of maple sap for 8 hours a day, and still then, he'd do it in a way that make you think he's joking. "I'm a little sore today, we hauled syrup from 2,000 trees you know." Um, YEAH? Your 73, DAD!!!
There is no one I could be prouder to call Dad. He has set an example, in his actions every day of his life, for 73 years, of what it takes to be a good, honest, hard-working, loving son, brother, father, husband, and grandfather.
Happy Birthday Dad!