Friday, June 18, 2010

A Tribute to Dad

"It's only when you grow up and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home-it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love." Margaret Truman

Father's day is upon us. What better time to reflect on my dad. Dad is still going strong, although currently recovering from sinus infection and a surgery to clear it up. My dad is a retired Lutheran pastor, Men's Chorus director and singer, builder, husband, father, and grandfather. He is a good man who has worked hard at all he does. For a man whose career saw him doing a lot of reading and writing, his sanity has come in the hard labor of building and maintaining cabins and a large acreage as well as gardening. Few days pass that my father doesn't sweat. I wish I could say the same.

"Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad. - Anne Geddes
True enough. So let's talk about Dad. When my sister and I were young, dad's role was pretty typical. He worked long hours, so when we saw him it was at supper time. Usually we'd talk about our day and he and mom would talk about things that were above our heads. If either of us had worn out our mom, she'd use the classic, "Wait til your father gets home!" It worked. If it was payday, he'd do something wonderful like say, "Let's go get A&W." He taught us cards and pingpong (never letting us win; we had to earn it). He taught us how to sing and love singing. Dad saved all his change for our vacation each year. He managed to get us to fun places on change. My sister and I used to get to count up the change by spreading it out on the livingroom floor and making little piles of money. Dad provided and provides the foundation for our family.

Dad's love of nature and the outdoors has been a constant for as long as I've been alive. In that time he's built with his own hands three cabins (one of them two stories). He's cleared more brush than he cares to think about, moved hundreds of rock and stones and reseeded property after flooding, and rigged up ways for us to bathe and shower off of spring water. He's felled trees (quite recently, actually). Anything having to do with trees, he's done - planted, watered, replanted, trimmed (both clipping and decorating), sawed down, chopped up, dragged and burned. He's made bridges, walking paths, and roads. He's designed ponds, dug out and shaped and landscaped. For awhile he ran a lawncare business on the side. What have I taken away from all of this? I, too, have a love of nature, the woods, trees. God is in there, you know.

I hadn't thought about my dad with this label before, but he has always been an ATHLETE. Odd that it took 40+ years to figure that out. When I was little, dad would regale tales of the glory days in college when he was on the gymnastics team and could do the CROSS on the rings (a feat requiring great strength). He'd also done some boxing; his father had been a boxer at one point. (And I like to kickbox, hmmm.) When I was about 10, we got up some mornings one summer at 5:30 AM so he could teach me tennis. I'd never gotten up that early in my life! I hadn't known how loud birdsong was at that time of day or what sunrises looked like. When my sister was in high school, dad challenged one of her boyfriends to a wrestling match in the front yard - and WON! (Needless to say, that guy never came back!) Dad used to be a jogger (today we use the term runner). He jogged 5 miles a day with our dog, sometimes at 4:30 in the morning! I seem to remember he ran a 1/2 marathon once. Even now, when running isn't a physical possibility, he still walks up to 4 miles a day. Walking and maintaining his latest building project (a cabin he had built by the Amish in their area) keeps him quite fit.

"A father is a banker. . . provided by nature." French proverb
This proverb rings true to me. And how apropos that it is a French proverb, seeing as one of the major ways dad - and mom - acted as bankers was for my summer in Paris! That summer in Paris in '89 led to a love of international travel including France, Germany, Italy and Mexico. It played a part in our daughter's adoption from Russia, and a part in my decision to move to Korea. Dad has helped fund my first apartment down payment, various car purchases, and countless can-I-get-that-Dad items when I was young. But dad hasn't just been a banker, he and mom have taught me a lot about the value of money and how to use it responsibly. Thank goodness, because in these economic times we haven't found ourselves in over our heads.

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is love their mother." - anonymous
I know this quote is important to my father because he used this quote on my wedding day. To my recollection, it was the last thing he said to my husband before the ceremony began. Of course we didn't have any children for a decade, but his words of wisdom stuck with me. I know that he has lived his life by this quote, and in so doing has provided a stable, loving home for his two girls. Wise words from a wise man.

I'd like to end my tribute to dad by saying a word about the intangibles. Dad has simply been a man who has done his best to provide spiritual and moral guidance for his family. He's done this mostly by example. He's led a Godly life, loved his wife and kids and grandkids. He's taught my sister and me (and many others whose lives he has touched over the years) honesty, integrity, an appreciation for nature, activity, writing, speaking, diplomacy, problem-solving, fun and hard-work. He's hugged and kissed and said 'I love you.' He's laughed and cried. He's been angry at injustice and wrong-doing. He's taught forgiveness and mercy. He's shown strength and vulnerability.

What more could a daughter ask for?

Thank you, Dad!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful....very moving....I hope you share this with him :)


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