Fathers’ Day 2014

This year marks my first Father’s Day and my dad’s 43rd! He wasn’t always perfect, but he was perfectly committed to the position and still is. Thank you, Dad, for everything, and then some. To celebrate, here are some great memories from the last four decades.

My dad was a three-tour vietnam vet. So of course my first memories of him involve looming over me in reprimand as I lay in my crib. To be fair, I deserved it, having thrown my toddler riding toy bike at my parents. I tended to get carried away as a kid.

Growing up in Mexico for many years, my dad’s sport of choice was “futbol”. He shared that love with me many Sundays over the years, teaching me that no matter how good you are at something, there’s always someone better. Until you get big enough and he gets old enough to finally realize you’re wearing him out and it’s time to hang up the cleats. Of course, I’m sure he could still dribble circles around me.

Dad’s devotion to my mom is epic and legendary. While she may have found it annoying that he always deferred to her choice every time we ate out, that same commitment to her happiness and well being serves her very well today.

Dad was always handier with people than things. Decades in car sales have given him a thick book filled with testimonials of his talent for helping people find their own happiness. These days, he’s still trying to figure out his iPhone. In the 80’s, the confounding machine was an unlit furnace that burned off his eyebrows. He doesn’t always handle technology well, but he’s never afraid to keep trying.

I get my work ethic from my dad. He never went very long without a job, whether it was managing shipping companies, delivering pizzas, or working for a chiropractor. (I can still remember the shelving units he built for the doc. In spite of my earlier assessment, he wasn’t that bad with things, either.) He didn’t even get into his current career of car sales until I was thirteen. Yet he never stopped working and doing and trying to provide for his kids and wife.

I rarely “suit up”. I’m more comfortable in jeans and a flannel. I can remember several pictures from the 70’s of my dad sharply dressed in a 3-piece suit. As a kid, Dad kept trying to keep me dressed up. I spent the first three years of high school dressed, as one classmate put it, like something out of a JCPenney catalog. He’s still known as a sharp-dressed man who can rock a fedora any day of the week. We may not have the same fashion sense, but Dad taught me how to iron my own shirts, and to always take pride in my appearance.

Some people thought my dad was too strict. Others thought he was surprisingly lenient. My dad spanked me plenty growing up. He and mom also tried groundings, exercises, writing assignments, and many a stern talking-to. I never felt abused in any way. Even at my most difficult moments during my teen years, I still felt my dad loved me.

Growing up, we moved around. A LOT. When I was 17, mom and dad did some math and figured we’d already moved 34 times. One time in the 70’s we moved into a new apartment and within weeks we were back at our old apartment. That one was totally my fault, but Dad never held a grudge. Through all those moves, he taught me resourcefulness and endurance. Because of this, I “tetris” a moving truck better than anyone I know. I also can handle heat-of-summer and dead-of-winter moves like a pro. All that moving also helped my dad foster in me his same skill with people. I learned how to make friends quickly, and to adapt well to ever-changing circumstances.

Dad always kept it together. There was a moment in seventh grade where my dad was the absolute coolest man on the planet, my super-hero and super-spy. This one takes a little setup. We were renting a house in Homer Glen. We started to have troubles with the landlord and decided to move. Creepy landlord started stalking the house. We loaded up a batch of belongings to take to the new place and he began following us as we drove away. So dad drove straight to the police station in town. We got a police escort out of the house and we never saw that guy again. I still smile when I remember the brilliance of that plan.

I have tons more old memories; too many to share here. He taught me to prefer a well-chopped salad, to not see race, to respect gender and age, to never be afraid to sweat, and to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep your family housed, clothed and fed. Most of all, he showed by example that love is actions and not just words.

So, on this Father’s Day, 2014, I look back to the amazing example that is my Dad, and I look forward to hoping I’m half as good at the job myself. Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *