Father’s Day

by Kim on June 20, 2010

Me and my Dad

My Dad died 28 years ago. He had a massive heart attack when he was 60 and lived for a couple of  days after it. My husband and I hit the road to drive back home as soon as we heard that he was in the hospital, but we got there right after he died. My baby son was 2 months old and we stopped often on the road so I could nurse him. We ran into fog and was behind a 9-car pile up on a Tennessee  highway and we stopped for the night because traveling wasn’t safe. We called home before we left the next morning and heard that my Dad had died overnight. I didn’t get to say goodbye. My Dad didn’t get to see my baby son. He would have loved that. I would have loved that even more.

My Dad was the best dad. My Mom told the story that at my Dad’s 40th class reunion, each classmate had to get up and tell what accomplishment made them the most proud. All other men mentioned their career, or the car they drove, or the house they lived in. My Dad talked about his children and how well we were doing, how smart we were, and how happy he was. It was pretty progressive for a man of his generation to speak of his children. She said he even choked up a bit – maybe because he was nervous. But Mom wanted us to know what he had to say about his life and his accomplishments. He was telling his truth, even if it meant exposing some emotion.

My Dad saved a man’s life once. At age 58, he worked on top of a stack at an oil refinery. He used high-pressure air hoses to clean the stack. While working beside my Dad, a co-worker fell into the stack. Without company training, my Dad instinctively knew that his co-worker wouldn’t live long inside the stack without air. There were poisonous gases inside the stack and getting oxygen to him was critical. My Dad took one of the air hoses and pointed it into the area that his co-worker fell. His quick thinking gave the emergency response team time to climb the scaffolding to the stack and rescue the worker. My Dad received a citation and a plaque from the company for his quick-thinking. His photo was in the newspaper. Not only was he my hero, but in the eyes of his co-worker’s family, he was Superman.

A dance with Dad

My Dad enjoyed his organic garden ( My Dad – The original organic farmer.) , telling corny jokes ( Knock-knock) , playing with his grand-kids, and getting to know people – especially new acquaintances. He lent money to friends who were going through hard times, even when he endured going without work himself. He volunteered as a football coach for “Pee-Wee” football (Football Boogie ) in our community. He spent extra time with my blind cousin to make her feel special whenever he saw her. He taught us to dance  Saturday night in the living room when the Grand Ole Opry was on TV. He worked hard to provide for us as best as he could. He was essentially the laughter and soul in our family.

Even though he was one of 14 kids in his family (Being a Middle Child, #7 of 14), and grew up in a family were affection wasn’t really shown, my Dad somehow knew how to let us know that we were special. He parented us better than he was parented for sure and our lives were much better than he knew as a child.

Father’s Day used to be a tough day for me. But now I just spend some time with the memory of my father and the rich feeling that I am truly blessed to have had the father that I had.

My Dad

For my father’s funeral, we read a poem by Emerson that described my Dad exquisitely. He wasn’t a rich man, or famous, or prosperous in his career by any means. But he did triumph at being a father. He truly did the best that he could.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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