Monday, January 14, 2013

my father, the hero

it's been quite awhile since i've written anything in here.  between the holidays, the work, the "busy," and the trying to behave normally, it seems that time has gotten away from me.

i started to write something on what would have been my mom's birthday.  but it was too hard.  too raw.

however, i AM going to write something here, on my dad's birthday.

i'd like to introduce you all to my father.  his name is robert.  and his birthday is today.

born the fifth of six children, and the third of four boys, dad was raised on a farm with his brothers and sisters, his mother (a WWII nurse and first lietenant), and his father (a WWII medic and corporal).  there are many stories of the boys being boys, sailing down the basement stairs, nailing a basketball backboard to the living room wall, one of the boys putting rocks in their dad's gas tank.  as they all got older, their hijinx turned to cars, driving fast, replacing carburators, and driving go-karts through the halls of the high school.

when my dad was set to graduate high school, he was a pretty good baseball player.  he played first base, and was offered a chance to go to college and play college-level baseball.  times being what they were, dad chose to work instead.  he was hired in to a factory job, where he worked for 30 years and retired at the age of 48.  during that time, he was many-times in a supervisor position, having been a born leader.  but he never lost that love of baseball, passing it on to countless kids during his years of coaching little league, Pony league, and to his eldest daughter while coaching her softball team. 

he also passed on his love for IU basketball, and i remember being small and knowing who bobby knight was before i could name the president of the united states.  so many winter afternoons and evenings were spent with popcorn, Assembly Hall, and bobby knight.  popcorn made in the old-style popper that had to be turned upside down in order to eat the goodness.

dad has always been extremely handy, and it was usually my sister who accompanied him in the garage.  i will say that to this day, the scents that remind me most of my dad are sawdust and a zippo lighter (since dad used to smoke).  he is where i learned to use my hands to make things happen, and i believe that he is the reason, to this day, that i prefer to figure something out and do it myself, rather than to pay someone else to do it.  his reasoning, and mine as well, is that if i do it, at least i know it's done correctly.

dad worked hard while i was little, working in the sweltering heat of a foundry to make sure we had what we needed.  he worked third shift, and slept during the day.  in the summers, we girls would stay up late to stand by the front door and wave to him before he left for work.  every night.  throwing hugs to him.  blowing kisses.  and there were times when dad would be laid off.  we never, ever needed for anything.  but there were many times when mom made our clothing, and we ate cheaper things.  but we never hungered for love, faith, or encouragement.  dad could often be quoted as saying he was our greatest cheerleader.

as i got older, dad got to have a little more fun.  often heard when i was little, he always wanted a harley.  he was finally able to get one when i was in the seventh grade.  a sportster 883.  a small bike for a big guy with a huge heart, it wasn't long until the 883 was traded for a superglide.  that was a man's bike, and a bike that fit dad's personality.  the bike was gone when i went away to school, realizing my dream to go to indiana university.  a dream that i was supported in.  a dream that mom and dad both saw come to fruitition. 

during my time away, i decided to go to medical school, instead of becoming a nurse like my grandmother.  i was nervous and scared that mom and dad would be unhappy because it meant more money for school.  but they supported me, helped me study, and threw a huge party for me after i took the MCAT.  and when the envelope came in the mail at home, and i was still in bloomington, they both called me and read it to me over the phone.  i had to pull over (i was driving on campus when i got the call), and i heard mom and dad both screaming and crying.  my dad was proud of my accomplishment.  he should have been more proud of himself for the things he did to get me to that point.

through all of my schooling, i never felt hungered or thirsted for attention.  most mornings, during college, dad and i would chat on instant messenger about random things.  it felt good to have a piece of home with me.  there was even one very memorable night that i took dad on a bar crawl with me and a bunch of my friends, and he was by far the coolest guy in the joint.  i remember many a night, after finishing a late rotation in medical school, i'd call and talk to dad.  and it didn't matter if he was sleeping or busy, he'd always take the call.

i can say that's one thing i have always been able to count on.  my dad and i have always had a very close relationship.  i've been extremely lucky to have a dad that i can consider a father, a peer, and a friend.  i've never had to feel ashamed, or embarrassed, or alone.  because i always had my dad.  even to this day, despite the fact that i'm 32 years old, my dad's advice and opinions mean a lot to me, and i still consult him for many things in life.  of course, i consult my husband, but i consider what my dad would do as well.

my dad is greatly responsible for my early faith in Christ, always making sure i knew the real meaning behind christmas and life.  and always sending up a silent prayer, or bringing up an occasional Bible verse when needed.

i am quite certain that if one looked up the definition of "daddy" in the dictionary, it wouldn't say anything about "biological genetic donor," which is what a father is.  "daddy" would have a picture of my dad, listing characteristics such as "silly, playful, serious, strict, supportive, loves chocolate cake, can throw a knuckle ball, rides a Harley, sings karaoke, loves a cold beer on a hot summer day, takes great pleasure in his grandkids." 

one thing i would add, despite what he always says about my sister and i being his heroes, is that i'm pretty sure that he is our hero.  he took all the things he was given in life, good and bad, and made a life for us that couldn't have been better if we would have hand picked it.  and i will forever be a better person because of him.

i love you dad.