I am going to be gone on Father's Day. I feel like a negligent daughter when I say this, but it just can't be helped. So, in lieu of my presence, this is going to be my Father's Day Gift and card all rolled into one. I am counting on my wonderful "adopted" mom, Martha, to help me deliver this greeting. My father has not yet dived into the social media/computer water that consumes much of my life so Martha, you will have to guide him to this blog.
Dear Dad: You and I have gone through a lot together in the last 53 or so years. Of course we have not been alone on this journey much, and have been in good company with Mom, Debbie, David, much later with Rita and now with sweet Martha. I know you had a whole life before we came along, and I can't speak of those days. All I can reminisce about is the years I have known you. Some of the earliest memories I have with you revolve around fishing. Since you didn't (yet) have a son to take fishing, I guess Debbie and I were the next best thing. I remember fishing trips to the Macon Lake, to the Magnuson's pond up the road from Grandma and even later quite a few trips to Sugar Creek Lake. What I remember most about those trips were your patience and your joy at sharing information about the world around us. As we discovered this world, you always took the time to share what you knew about the trees we liked, the bugs we spotted or the snake swimming across the water. We were probably the most informed preschoolers in the area. I knew the difference between a bug and an insect, I knew how to tell if a snake was poisonous, I knew to look out for poison ivy and how to protect myself from tic bites. And this was all before I was in kindergarten.
And what a role model you were for us in our schooling! Early memories of you included going to your college graduation and seeing you in a black robe. Hanging out with you in the back yard while you studied and assembled a really cool collection of butterflies and beetles on the picnic table. It seemed like you always had a textbook in your hands, or were taking notes.
Then there were the summer mornings spent in the garden. I think I was your early morning buddy (I still love to get up at the crack of dawn). I remember helping you plant a garden (the seeds needed to be spaced in the rows under the string you used to keep everything straight), then harvest the vegetables from that garden. Do you remember calling me "Charlie"? I loved that (even though now I think it must have been because you wanted a son. . . .)
In the winter, I remember you were in charge of bundling Debbie and I up for school. We were wrapped so tight some days I wasn't sure I could bend! Other winter memories include your excellent care of me when I was sick (which seemed like all the time!). You would tilt us back in a chair over the open oven door to dry our hair (before hand held hair dryers). Then there were the Vicks Vap-o-rub steam treatments. You were such a great care taker. I remember one time when I was very sick with asthma. I had just been diagnosed with it, and you held my hand and patiently explained what asthma was, how it affected the body, and what I could do to feel better. You even helped me learn how to "breathe" to slow my respiration and get better oxygen intake. Of course this was all before the great medicines that they now have.
And as we grew, your calm, intelligent approach to our childhood ups and downs set a good example for me. I have to smile when people ask me how I stay so calm at work. . . I always think of you and the many times I heard you advise us "don't get excited, take it slow and use your head". This great advice has served me well in my career.
You were always there for us, Dad. You worked hard to make sure we had what we needed, even if it wasn't always what we wanted. You taught us to value education and to save for the future. You set a good example in your life through your honesty, integrity and dedication to family. True, you weren't the baseball coach, the scout leader or the "life of the party". The lessons you taught us and the lessons we learned by example have helped me lead a quality life that I am very proud of.
So, Dad, on this Father's Day, as we mark 53 years together, I want to finally thank you. Thank you for choosing a wife (Mom!) to balance out your strengths and weaknesses. Thank you for showing us the way and for mentoring us by example, strength, care and love. Thank you for always being there and having the answers we needed to the questions we asked. I have always been extremely proud to call you my father. I know that it is sometimes hard for you to show emotions with us. And we don't always say what needs to be said. So, I am writing this tribute to you as a heartfelt Father's Day gift and as an essay that is long overdue. I love you and I thank you. For all the things I have mentioned and the many more that I haven't. Have a great day! Love, Diana