I remember you dropping me off at school in a bulldozer, a forklift, a backhoe, a dump truck, a station wagon with a broken muffler, and Great-Grandpa’s 1955 Oldsmobile jalopy. Even though I was beyond embarrassed to be seen getting out of each of these vehicles, you taught me not to put on airs, and that it doesn’t matter what you show up in, what matters is that you show up.
I remember that cardboard home you built for the injured raccoon that had fallen out of a tree, or the time you bought a baby doll that came with a mini bottle at the local Sprouse Reitz store-not so I could have a new toy-but to feed the baby mice who were curled up in a drawer out in the shed after they had just lost their mother. You taught me about compassion, and to love all creatures large or small.
I remember you handing out money to the homeless living on the streets, always picking up the tab, dropping what you were doing nearly every weekend to treat one of your patients who may have been suffering from a toothache, and the first to help out a friend or family member no strings attached. You taught me the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate, and to be generous with not only your wallet but also your time.
I remember you teaching me to throw a football, hammer a nail, drive a truck, and how to execute the proper cannonball that could splash as many people as possible. You reinforced the notion that girls can do anything that boys can, and to never sit too close to the swimming pool when you are around.
I remember you cheering on the sidelines when I played soccer or giving me tips when I warmed up in the batter’s circle. I remember you gesturing for me to sit up straight when I was in the orchestra pit, or reaching out your hand after I had a wipeout on the ski slopes. Your encouragement, presence, commitment, and security helped me develop self-confidence, self-worth, and the warmth of unconditional love.
I remember having to pick weeds, lift cinder blocks, or drag rebar from one pile to another and then back again after you changed your mind. And at least one day during ski week you made me and the other kids ski Signal Hill by trudging an hour uphill-through knee deep snow, while fumbling with our skis and poles-only to spend the next four hours dealing with the dreaded rope tow. You taught me about endurance, hard work, and an appreciation for chair lifts.
I remember you looking over my math homework each night, circling the problems that had mistakes, but making me figure out the answers and not letting me go to bed until I was finished. Although I shed many a tear and broke down into my “You’re a mean father” tirades, you helped me develop great study habits, taught me to not cut corners, and most importantly you taught me to not be a quitter.
I remember your games of “I’ll give a buck to whoever eats the most pancakes, swims underwater the longest on one breath, finds the most Easter eggs, or touches the car first (a family ritual we engaged in especially after exiting a restaurant or even church). My favorite line that you used to say was: “Who wants to get me my (fill in the blank)?” The last person to say, “I do” had to retrieve your requested item. You taught me to be competitive and to always give it my all, even if the results didn’t always go my way.
I remember you taking the scenic route sometimes when we needed to get somewhere quickly, or not making a big deal if someone cut in line after we had been waiting for an hour. Although it’s not easy, I’m working hard to emulate your style of patience and “No biggie” attitude.
After all these years, I look back with great fondness at a childhood that you could only find in your dreams. You prepared me well for all the many challenges that have crossed my path. Your commitment and love for Mom and all your children has left a lasting impression. If I could be half the Mother that you are as a Father, then I will have succeeded.
I Love You with all my heart.
Happy Father’s Day 2016 , Dad (aka Papa Doodles)