Do you see that twinkle in his eye? It has been there all of my life. My dad is the biggest tease with the most tender heart.
He is in his 80th year, to be celebrated in September of this year, so I have celebrated 53 of these special days with him, but do not recall them all. I do know that he is an amazingly talented and hard working man. Mom and he will celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary in November 2010. They will both be 80 by then. What a legacy.
Humour is his first gift to me. Tease, laugh, make others smile. Life is good. From the paper boy, to the milk man, to the mail man to my little play mates; he was the tease extraordinaire, eventually earning the nickname “œHot-lips” from one of my adolescent girl friends because he always had a zinger. Still does.
Charity is the second great lesson from my dad. He taught me how to be tender to the animals because “œthey can’t tell you what they want; they just need gentleness and a lot of love and care”. He taught me to be honest with my friends. I was thirteen, and crying on my bed about a typical adolescent conflict. It really hurt him to see me so upset. He asked what the problem was. I was embarrassed, but told him. He listened. He sat a minute, then he said,” Just go and tell her how you feel. Be honest. Tell the truth. What do you have to lose?” It seemed too simple. It also worked. It took a lot of courage, but my dad gave me that courage though his simple advice. “œWhat did I have to lose?” And, I learned I had so much more to gain. He taught me to help my neighbours and those in need through his example. My dad was always helping everyone in the neighbourhood, and everyone he knew. He still does that right now. He has a single gal living next door, and trips over himself trying to help her fix what breaks, and take care of her yard. He has done that all of his life. I could always count on him to stop everything if I needed him. One phone call, and I knew he would be there. And, one time the phone call came because I had dented his car. He came, he was not angry. He was kind, and taught me so much about understanding, and charity. The charity you give with your heart and with your hands.
Music is the third gift he brought to our home. There is nothing my dad cannot do. And, I really do mean that. Is there a word opposite of the word lazy? That would describe my dad. He taught himself how to play the guitar, the fiddle, the banjo, and many evenings in bed we could hear him strumming a few sad old tunes. I remember him getting up and fiddling with the band at The Elks Club in Red Deer at one party we were all at. I was super impressed! That’s my dad! He was good. Later in life, he taught himself how to play the organ and the piano. He made sure my sister and I got lessons. I am glad I took them. I wish I had his gift for singing. He can sing beautifully. I croak, but LOVE to sing!
The value of hard work is next. Only in the last five years have I seen him sit idle, and then, only part of some days. Even now, there is not a day he lives without a project he is working on. This spring, he and mom cleaned out their entire back yard on their own; he redid the window linings on the outside of the front of the house; they cleaned out the entire garage, and refinished the garage floor on their own. Phew! It makes me tired thinking of it. It is hard for him to ask for help, or even accept it. This is a little sad, as he definitely knows how good it feels to help others. It is still something he struggles with. Every now and then he will call and ask, or accept an offer. We get so excited when we can contribute!
When he doesn’t know how to do something, he finds out, and does it himself. He has wired an entire basement, plumbed many a toilet, built grandfather clocks, and roll top desks from scratch. He is extremely artistic and has many of his drawings on the wall of the family home. So, the next lesson: believe in yourself. You can do anything if you try. I have learned that to be true. This is also one of the lessons from my mother, so I got the double whammy here. Both parents were soÂ strong about teaching me to believe in myself, and my personal abilities and encouraged me to have the courage to do what was right and what needed to be done.
Independence was another gift from him. Get a job. Save your money. Plan your life. Set goals. He did it all. It was my mom who took me to a friend of hers when I was 14 to get a job. I wasn’t too happy about it, but I learned a lot, and saved my money. I definitely understood the value of hard work. Both of my parents are insatiable when it comes to hard work. I definitely became independent. My mother was also a good role model for me in that area, and my dad was a great supporter of her career successes. That has served me well all of my life as a woman in the “œcross-over” generation: raised in the era where your husband will take care of you. I value the building projects we have tackled together. He expected me to know how to take care of a car if I was going to drive one, taught me how, and made me do it. I loved how he taught me to drive a standard. He explained it, handed me the keys, and out I went. I managed after a few blocks to catch on. And, he let me.
And lastly, the importance of being generous. My dad has been an extremely loving and generous father all of his life. I have lived a dream in middle class Canada. We had camping trips to the mountains, family holidays, summer camps, pets, a fantastic play house, my own car when I turned 16, and a good part of my post secondary education paid for me. I never expected a thing, yet every time I turned around, another generous gift of time, labour, or money from my dad. I can’t count how many times he helped me move. He has felt responsible for his two adult daughters most of his life as we have each been single for a good part of ours. It is the old school man in him, but I know he no longer feels that way for either of us. (Thank God!) And, we all got to live through enough as a family to celebrate many more successes than we ever imagined possible.
Breakfast is his favourite meal. He is still an early riser. We rarely have dinner celebrations anymore. This time it was The Hotel Macdonald because it was also my daughter’s birthday today, and her fellow’s birthday next week. So, yes, we had a lot to celebrate. A lot of laughs, great food, and a wonderful family. What more could one ask?
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! “¦and here’s to MANY MORE! XO