This is my Dad! A few months ago ( Oct, 14th 2016 ) he turned 80 years old. I wanted to do this post for his Birthday but lots of life kept getting in the way……So here it is now because it is just too important to me not to get this out there……
What’s in the name “Dad”. There are many different ways for daughters (and sons) to name their fathers. I don’t ever remember calling him “Daddy” although I’m sure I did as a child. “Daddy” is fairly common in the south no matter what a your age. “Father? no, I don’t use that name much, not even when talking with others about him. He is simply Dad: Short and sweet, to the point, strong, firm, loving, always there.
As I reflex on my life; where I am, the man I married, the way my life looks now, I can see so many things I learned from my dad. I don’t recall long talks or “words of wisdom”. My child hood years didn’t have much time for that, Dad worked more that a few jobs to feed and cloth the 5 little’s in our family. Then in my teens it was me who was busy. Hum, too busy to listen, wondering what I missed? What I didn’t miss and still see today is him “showing up”. He shows his love and taught us life by showing up and doing. He is a “doer” a little slower at 80 but still showing up and caring for others by doing. He is also a man who puts family first.
He learned young to work and do, mowing the yard, helping my Granddad build their house at a ripe old age of 11 or 12. He learned to build, to fix things ,to take care of himself and others. I remember thinking as a child if something is broken “Dad can fix it, right?” All through my life I’ve thought my dad could fix anything.
The one thing I know best of all is my Dad showed up especially when it counted and sometimes when I didn’t even know it. In his 30’s he learned swim when it became obvious is children loved the water and he had to be sure he was doing his best to protect us. When I was in 5th grade it was his hand I held as a doctor put 53 stitches in my face after a dog tried to bite off my chin. I still remember him teaching me to drive that little truck with a stick shift in the church parking lot. Oh my! (I still prefer a standard and think everyone should learn to drive a stick shift! And a person can’t text or talk on their phone while driving a standard, just saying!) When I went away to college, my parents would try and come see me preform at the football games. I never knew they slept in the parking lot of my dorm because it was too late and they were too tired to drive the 4 hours back to Dallas but couldn’t spend the money on a hotel room. There was the time I called home late one night with a completely broken heart. He and Mother were at my door step at first light, (again driving that 4 hours) to move everything I owned into the suburban, help me find an place to live and move me in before driving back home. Oh I could go on…..
As a grandfather (and great grandfather) continues to show up. Showing up for babies being born, birthday parties, driving across the country for horse shows, basketball games, graduations, cooking BBQ for wedding parties, the list goes on. In a resent difficult time where there was not much we could do but wait, he was there waiting with us.
I grew up watching my dad give, not just for us but for others. He served his country in the Air National Guard, he served his community through the Scottish Rite Masonic lodge. He spent countless hours raising money and building a play ground at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. I recall hearing someone ask him why he loved and worked so hard for the hospital, is answer “Because I’ve been blessed to not have had a child here and it’s the least I can do” Today he service his God by caring for a small group of gatherers at a place they call the Mission house.
In this time in our lives my talks with him are so precious. When I visit home we often share an early cup of coffee, sharing old stories, talking of dreams , filling him in on what the kids are up to. I’m particularly fond of the random phone calls I get, just because and with not really any reason at all but just to say hi.
He has recently started a new project, restoring an little old farm house near one of my sisters. He was sharing with me his dream for that house. A place to provide for he and Mom in the future, a place for family. As you can see above, we are a big group! I see a place to do work he believes is purposeful, because that is who he is, a man that does things.