Thoughts of My Dad on Father’s Day

My dad was the kind of guy that never asked for anything for Father’s Day. I remember asking him once what he was going to give my mom for Mother’s Day and he replied, “Nothing, she’s not my mom.” He wasn’t being sarcastic or rude, he was just being dad – blunt, honest and answering a question. You didn’t have to question what my dad thought, if you wanted to know just ask, he would tell you. But be prepared because if you asked he was going to be honest, like it or not. I get that from my dad.

My dad never wanted to be acknowledged or recognized for doing what he felt was his most important job – being a father. My dad was my hero and I still measure a man to my father. Not height, of course he was a little guy (but he scared the hell out of everyone). I remember when my ex and I were married and visited him in the hospital someone made a comment about how tall my ex was (6’4”) and my dad replied, “Yeah, we had to marry the height in the family.”

But the measure of a man is not his height, it is his values, beliefs and actions. My dad set the bar and there are very few men that can compare.

My dad taught me that I could do anything a boy could do, that being a girl was not an excuse or reason not to pursue whatever I wanted or to act in an unacceptable way. My dad taught me to fish and bait my own hook. He also ruined tapioca pudding for me on a fishing trip by telling me at a young age that the little round things in there were fish eyes. That was my dad’s humor and I loved it…when I was older of course, not at the time that I was spitting out pudding.

My dad worked his butt off for his family. He had callouses on his hands and hardened soles on his feet. His back was constantly tight and in pain but he did not complain. My dad was a man of few words but boy did his looks say a lot. I can still see him lowering his reading glasses, raise his eyebrows and give me “the look”. And then there was his smile; a genuine, warm beautiful smile that made you feel safe and loved all at once.

We didn’t grow up saying a lot of “I love you” s, my dad was the kind of man that showed his love, but didn’t speak it. He was very proud of us growing up and suffered more than we did when we learned our lessons, but never spoke of it. When he did speak, he imparted great wisdom in a gentle way or said things that made me laugh. Of course, never in front of him until I was old enough to outrun him.

Some of my dad’s best advice: “The older you get the smarter your mother and I get.” And, “If you are never sure how you should act, just imagine I am standing right next to you.” I use those on my boys and I use them today.

My dad didn’t think of himself often, he always put his family before himself. He took great pride in his appearance; which was sometimes fun because he was colorblind so he always needed a shoe spot check. I remember when I first went to college and after moving into the dorm, all the girls on my floor came by to tell me how handsome my dad was, they loved his salt and pepper hair. I told dad he was not allowed to visit on his own.

My dad watched and took everything in, never missed a thing. He treated everyone he met with respect and kindness. He was an honorable man, a true man of his word. He was tough, though. I was scared to death of him growing up. I still remember vividly the first time I ever talked back to him. I was a senior in high school and he was upset that he might have missed a call. Somewhere out of my body, in a very soft voice – I told him that if it were that important they would call back.

Then the realization of what I just said hit me and I thought my life on earth was over. But he stopped, looked at me and said, “You are right, they would.” And that was it. But that was the day our relationship changed. That was the day I knew my father saw me as more than his baby girl.

When my son was born he wouldn’t hold him. I asked why not and he said he never held any of us as babies either. I think in some way he thought that such small fragile life would be too delicate in his calloused hands. But you could see the absolute love in his eyes for my son.

I was at my dad’s bedside when he died. A couple of weeks prior he had told me that one of his biggest fears was that my son would forget him, as my son was not yet three years old. Before my dad took his last breaths that day I promised him Jake would never forget him, I would make sure of it.

Growing up Jake knew of CCX trucks as “Papa Teepe” trucks, his name for my dad. I have told him stories of my father and tried to share as much of him as I can. My biggest pain in my heart is that they did not get the chance to get to know each other. I think they would have been great friends.

I only had 25 years with my father, and he has been gone 16 as of June 16. Father’s Day is tough, it is just a few days after the anniversary of his death. He never got the opportunity to see how much of him I carry in myself, how much I have passed on to my son. But I know he is here with me and always will be. I am so thankful to have had a wonderful father, I just wish so much of that 25 years wasn’t wasted on teenage stupidity thinking he knew nothing.

I remember him telling me about someone he worked with who had lost their father who was 80 something. Dad said he couldn’t really feel bad because both his parents died young, he was robbed of years with his parents. I get it. I feel robbed, and sometimes I feel angry. And it makes me even more ticked off when I see a man who chooses not to be a part of his child’s life or worse picks to be a part of one but not his others. What a selfish bastard. It’s that bluntness coming through.

My father was the measure of a man not only in his values, how he conducted himself but also because he was a dad first and foremost. We were not an easy lot, but he loved us and guided us with all the love and strength in his heart.

He was also a measure of a man in how he treated my mom. He had genuine love and respect for my mom. He was not a romantic man but he said the most romantic thing I have ever heard – ever. When I was in college he told me that he was looking forward to this part of his life, that he had done his job and raised his kids and he had waited over 20 years for this part, to spend time with just my mom, this was their time. And I am okay with him telling me raising me was a job – it was.

He would probably tell me that this is way too much to write about him, that he wasn’t worth this much space. He would be wrong. Today I will be thinking of my dad, but I don’t need Father’s Day for that, I do it every day.

For you fathers out there – happy Father’s Day to you. Enjoy your family, cherish them and remember what a huge influence you are in their lives, use that gift wisely. For those going to see their father hug a little tighter, easy the handshake a bit and take an extra moment to tell him in your own way and his how much you appreciate him. Thank him for putting up with you and all your pain in the butt moments in life.

For those of you who have lost your father be grateful for the time you did have and think about the things he taught you. In your everyday life are you honoring him? Living the lessons he taught? My dad taught me to be a fighter, to stand up for myself and if I want something then I damn well better figure out a way to go get it because it wasn’t going to be handed to me no matter how cute I am. I am so grateful for that, life can kick me around pretty good sometimes, but my dad taught me how to hit back. “Never tuck your thumb, that’s how it will get broke”.

Happy Father’s Day Dad, I love you.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.

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