This Father’s Day 2015 is full of memories as my life takes on another turn of events. I’m not certain when the impact occurred as to how much of an influence my father really had on me.
Is it every time I fill the lawn mower with gas, and remember when Dad would say, “don’t fill it all the way up to the top; the gas needs a little room to expand.” Or is it when I drive the car in winter, and remember what he said to do when if I hit an ice patch. Or maybe when I’m in my DIY painting mode, and remember dad’s instructions about using the paint roller and sashing the trim. Or perhaps, a bigger impact when I see someone having a difficult time, or an accident, and I just automatically, by rote, rush in to help. I learned the latter when I saw my dad pack me in the car along with some supplies and we drove over to some of his employees’ homes that had been flooded out by heavy rains one year. Mom told me dad was a softie, because he remembered his own life’s hardships, and yet that “softie” was not a pushover.
Dad had three loves in his life: his family, his golf game, and his business. The order was flexible depending upon events of the moment. He was the oldest of five children, and his own father passed away when he was teenager. He had to quit school to support his mother and siblings. He never finished high school, and yet when he finally retired due to health reasons in his late 70’s, he was a proud owner of a manufacturing business employing a significant number of people. And yes, Mr. President, he did build that.
I grew up with a “Tiger mom”, so dad, with his calmness and practicality, was the perfect foil when Mom and I would go at it over piano practice, and later other mother/daughter duels. Whereas mother was always miserly in her praise for a job well done, lest I “get a big head”, dad wore a big smile on his face and shared a hug.
But in hindsight, my dad’s greatest impact on my life and the person I am today involves the obstacles of life. “No one owes you a living,” he would say. He never dwelt on the hardships, the injustices, or the ingrates. Instead, he used his energy to solve the issue and make the situation better than it was. What Dad lacked in formal education, he more than made up for it in determination. He always had faith in me, and he was my sounding board and shoulder when life’s lessons threatened to overwhelm me. He believed in family, his country, in the goodness of the Almighty, and that life’s rewards were there for you if you worked hard and treated your fellow man fairly.
When dad passed away suddenly at age 87, his wake spoke volumes to the man he was. People from the condo building where my parents lived came out in force, employees who worked for him over the many years, industry colleagues, golfing buddies, neighbors from where I grew up. “Your father always said hello to me,” “he always lent a hand,” “he gave me my first break,” “I learned more from your father than I did my own,” “his face always lit up when he spoke about you and how proud he was of you,” “his family always came first.”
And now, as I honor Father’s Day with some grillin’ and chillin’, I realize that I have not lit a large enough fire on the Bar-B for my intended dinner. I AM my father’s daughter.