This year, Father's Day falls on the 19th of June. The 20th will be the 3 year anniversary of my Dad's passing. I miss him so. I know that we often magnify people in death, beyond what they really were in life, but, in my Dad's case, it just isn't true. He was some kinda wonderful. I'm thankful that I told him so regularly, when he was alive.
When he was alive, I spoke to him nearly every morning. As I drove to work, I'd dial him up and talk to him, about various things. When I made a sale, he was the first person I'd want to call, because I knew he genuinely shared my joy. He loved to hear stories about my work. Somedays we talked tomatoes- how many we'd each picked the night before, how big and how beautiful and tasty they were. He taught me how to grow tomatoes, you see. He was the master. Sometimes we'd talk about what was on his agenda for the day, or how I was doing at work. Other times he'd tell me how far he'd ridden on his stationary bike that morning. Before his ankles went bad, he used to take morning walks in his neighborhood and he'd tell me how that went.
He touched people wherever he went. Earlier this month, I received a letter in the mail from Angela. She was his waitress at the Early Bird Cafe, where he often went for breakfast. Three years later, out of the blue, she sends me a letter, telling me how blessed she was to have known him and how thankful she was that she did. Who does that? Someone who knew greatness, that's who.
He was a hard worker all of my life. He worked multiple jobs, seven days a week for most of my life. He never complained about not having a day off. Really. I cannot ever remember him complaining. He was up at the crack of dawn and didn't get home until long after dark. But, he did not complain. His first job was helping his dad in the corn fields of Iowa, picking corn and throwing it in a horse drawn wagon.
He had a variety of jobs throughout his life. He worked on the railroad as a brakeman. He collected scrap iron for pay, worked in a lumber mill, as a school janitor, owned his own janitorial service, drove a trash truck and ultimately became the head of maintenance for the Redondo Beach City School District before his retirement.
He was a happy man-a man content with his lot in life, with the blessings he'd been given. He was generous, sometimes to a fault. With his time, his money and his help. He was a helping hand to more people than I can count. Probably to far more than I even know. He was gentle and kind, and long suffering. He didn't expect much from people. He just cared for them and gave himself to them. He was, as a friend would say, "a soft place to land". He was the one who baked a pie for a neighbor, or fried and delivered chicken for his friend who had Alzheimer's and lived in an assisted living community where the food wasn't so good.
He was soft hearted. He loved babies. Loved his kids. Loved my mom. He could easily be brought to tears by simple kindness. The last time he visited my home, he walked into my kitchen, and upon seeing the new room we had built, his eyes filled with tears and his chin wobbled. I'll never forget that. I knew why. He was overwhelmed with pride and happiness for us. That's how he was-always wanting the best for us, and willing to sacrifice to help us get it.
When he was in the hospital, he knew what was coming. He talked to me about cleaning out his shed, and taking care of my mom and even about me getting a new car. He always thought I needed a new car, because I drive my cars for a decade or more, generally. He offered to help. I assured him my car was good and that there's was already money budgeted for a new one before long. It was important for him to know we'd all be taken care of. After he was gone, the shed got emptied. We bought a new car. And-as promised, I'm doing my best to take care of my mom, too. It was the last promise I made to him and I intend to keep it.
For more than half a century, I was blessed with a wonderful dad. I don't wallow in sadness because he is gone. I revel in my "good luck" to have had him for so long. I am grateful for the foundation he provided, the kindness he modeled, the work ethic he instilled and the tenacity he gave to every effort. He molded me. He blessed me. He loved me. Far more than I deserved. I am grateful. But-I still miss him--everyday.