Today is my dad's day of birth. I woke up this morning laying in bed thinking about how affected my life has been by this one person, my dad.
I have very early childhood memories that make me smile when I think of my dad. I was approximately three and I remember being so proud of being able to finally blow a bubble with gum. I kept blowing and blowing and popping and popping prancing in front of my dad. Look at me, Look at me! We moved to a farmhouse shortly thereafter near a small town named Hawkeye. It is a rural community where everyone knows your name.
My dad had always raised rabbits and other creatures since my childhood. I enjoyed jumping into my dad's truck, sitting next to him, and heading to town for feed. I would run up and down the steps at the grain yard with not a care in the world. I enjoyed following my dad around like a shadow learning how to feed rabbits, goats, chickens, geese, hogs and our one cow named Bullwinkle. In fact, I was always so close to my dad that he was mowing one day, and told me to back away from the mower as he was about to mow in an area that was known to have bees. Well, needless to say, I was stung by several bees that day, and also got to learn about placing mud on a sting to draw the stinger out. I chuckle as I write this tonight thinking of what my kids would think of me if I told them to put mud on their bee sting. LOL!
I learned to be a hard worker by watching him work in the fields and on the farm. My dad also bartered labor for feed with the neighbors. There was a true sense of you reap what you sow, and that especially was taught as I watched my dad tend to the garden. There was always plenty to do, and I'm grateful for the life lessons I learned from living on our little farm.
I eventually moved back to Waterloo around 11 years of age, or 4th grade. I recall not being happy about this transition at all. My world was about to be turned upside down as we left my dad behind. Thankfully, I was reunited with my dad over the next several months or year (As a child it seemed like 100 years).
My dad worked several jobs to provide for us. We rarely had more than our needs, but somehow those needs were always met. I remember starting to realize how much I missed my dad from working many hours. He worked at a gas station and I would visit him. He would usually chat with me for a bit and then send me on my way with a frozen pizza to feed me and my brother. Sometimes he would even throw in a snickers candy bar. This was a special treat!
My dad would refinish furniture for people or to sell. I remember walking in the garage thinking of how awful the varnish smelled, but I never complained as I sat and talked with my dad while he would work. My dad was very patient, and was always more than willing to show me how to do whatever it was he was doing. So, when I felt like more than talking he taught me how to strip furniture and paint. To this day, I love to paint. It's satisfying to see the fruits of labor almost immediately.
My dad also took me to my grandparents home frequently. I believe that this is where my dad obtained his desire for gardening, and his patience for kids. I am forever grateful to my dad for taking me to their home, and allowing them to be active in my life. I got to watch and listen as my dad and grandparents talked about life. The screened porch was the setting for this conversation, and me sitting next to my dad in the porch swing was the place for me. Any worries that I had as a child would disappear as I was untouchable in this moment.
My dad was never critical, and rarely raised his voice. However, I listened intently when he said "If you... I will cut your water off!" I never quite understood as a kid what cutting my water off was, but from the tone and look I knew it couldn't be good. I never wanted to disappoint my dad, so that was usually good enough for me. I will confess though that there was a time when we lived on the farm that I was reprimanded. I was told time and time again not to bring cats into the house. My dad never liked cats. Well, I love cats and so I snuck them into the 2-story house and put them in one of the bedrooms upstairs. I should also mention that I took a rabbit box and brought in a ground squirrel as I was going to "save" him. (Um, he was already dead.) Needless to say, this is the only time in my life that I recall being reprimanded.
This little girl eventually grew up. I no longer hold my daddy's hand, and the porch swing is gone as are my grandparents. My dad has lived in Texas for 7 years. A busy life and many miles keep us from seeing much of each other as often as I would like. But, nothing keeps me from loving him, and I know that he loves me in return.
I've been focused on gratitude lately, and my dad is definately at the top of my list. I am incredibly grateful for his active role in my life. I'm grateful for the good and the bad things. I'm grateful for his love and affection. I thank God that he continues to be a support in my life. It may not always look and feel the way the I would like, but I take what I can get.
We are not promised tomorrow, so if something were to happen and I not wake, my dad will know that he is a good dad and that I love him very much!
Happy Birthday Dad!