Father’s Day

This is a repost (I know, my apologies for the rash of re-runs) from a 2012 post for my dad’s 83rd birthday. 

Today would have been my father’s 83rd birthday. He passed away from lung cancer in 2005 and left behind a wife, seven children and eight grandchildren. He was a complex individual and a very brave man who endured more than his fair share of demons. He battled alcoholism and was able to defeat it, without treatment, without AA; it would seem by sheer force of will and deep faith in God.

He taught me a great deal about life and living it through his many sayings and parables, but as many children do, I learned the most by watching and listening to him. He expected a great deal from me and my siblings and was adamant that we realize our full potential. He was the one person whose praise I wanted more than air to breathe or water to drink; he was ultimate authority and the keeper of the keys of praise. As I got older, I realized that I was waiting for words that had already been expressed in action. He trusted me enough to give me the hardest lessons, to push me when I wanted to sit down and stay. He showed me the ugly, brutal attack of the soul that addiction and mental illness brings to a person, a family, a father. He also showed me a resolve of steel and a focus so laser sharp, it sliced through doubt and despair. His super power was his mind, his intelligence and his weapon was his incredible ability to strategize, anticipate his opponent’s reaction, course of action or goal and then act accordingly. He lived life like it was a chess game and every move was to be carefully weighed out, options explored with no hurry or urgency at all. Careful, detailed consideration and utilizing his knowledge of human nature to assist him in “foretelling” what was coming towards him.

Growing up in a large family, it’s sometimes difficult to get the one-on-one attention that a child needs, but I was able to have that time with him when I was young, as he would take me to his office sometimes on a Saturday, when he was called in to handle some computer crisis or another. I feel in love with downtown through those trips; the towering buildings, the hush of the city in the early morning hours, free of the scurry and rush of the work day. If I behaved myself and didn’t interrupt his work, I was rewarded with donuts and orange juice while he had his coffee. He had an incredible work ethic and I am thankful he instilled that in me. I worked for him when I was in my early teens (bitching and moaning the entire time) and learned data entry, which opened doors for me when I went out into the world later in life. I resented the loss of freedom at the time and felt he was the WORST DAD EVER, but like many times since then, I was wrong. He was strict, but I understand now there was a great love that was driving his particular parenting style.

So, today I will continue the legacy of my father and live to my full potential, thanks to his tough love and encouragement. Although he’s no longer here with me, I hear his voice in my head and feel his hand upon my shoulder. He hasn’t left me really, because he is where he has always been; in my heart.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

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Dad doing his best impression of American Gothic (perhaps inspired by my stylish overalls?) circa 1994

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