My dad worked very hard to support our family as we were growing up. In addition to being a teacher and eventually a principal, he sold insurance on the side, coached pretty much every sport, and mowed many different camps and cemeteries to make extra money. This enabled my mom to stay at home with us. (Another blessing that as I child I took for granted, but now realize how important that was.) Growing up, I have many memories of time spent with my dad, a lot of them were spent going with him to football and basketball practices where my brother and I climbed all over the bleachers looking for interesting finds, like combs and pens. We also tagged along with him when he would go to mow. One of our favorite family "stories" happened when my brother and I went with my dad to drop the riding mower off to have some maintenance done. The mower was in the bed of my dad's truck and as my brother and I were climbing on it pretending to drive, we accidentally knocked it out of gear. Because the tailgate was down we rolled off of the bed of the truck and went careening down the hill towards the road. We were screaming and my dad came running after us. Somehow he caught up with us and managed to stop the tractor. Thankfully aside from being scared, my brother and I were fine. I think that Dad was more shaken up than we were. So shaken up that he took us to MacDonalds (a very rare treat!) and bought us Charlie Brown glasses. (Looking back at that now through the eyes of a mom, I realize how badly that could have ended. It makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.)
Speaking of throwing up, I am reminded of another funny family story. For as long as I can remember, my dad has always had a beard and/or a moustache. That is just a fact. The sky is blue, you have pay taxes and my dad has facial hair, period. Well, that is except for one fateful night... I was probably about 4 or 5 and for some reason I woke up and walked out into the kitchen where my mom and dad were. My dad had shaved his face. Beard and moustache were gone. I took one look at him started crying and threw up right there on the floor. That was about 31 or 32 years ago, and Dad has had a beard ever since.
Here we are when I was about 8 or 9. Dad was getting ready to go to work.
When I was in elementary school and high school, I was always a good student. Mom and Dad made it known that we were expected to do our best. Dad was a great example of this. In fact I was done with school before he was. He always pushed himself to learn more and to better himself. ( He eventually became a doctor.) And I wanted him to be proud of me. I still have a note that he gave me telling me that he was proud of what a good kid I was. I keep it in my wallet to this day.
I learned many things from my dad. For example a broom or a weed eater or a toilet brush are NOT, in fact magic wands. You actually have to put a little effort into using them. You don't quit something while you are in the middle of it, regardless of what it is. And NEVER drive with your foot hanging out the window. ( I know, I was an idiot!) And one of the most important things...John Denver was and still is amazing.
Anyone that knew me as I was growing up, knew that I was grounded for the majority of my high school life. I would get so mad at him. He was so mean and strict. I never got away with anything, ever! I would try to go to a party ( the kind of party that I had no business going to) and he would know. He ALWAYS knew! Probably because he was the principal at my high school. I would get so upset, but he would stay firm. (Thanks Dad! I know that I would have probably gotten myself into a lot of trouble if you hadn't been so aware of what was going on. ) Boys were pretty much terrified of him, so that probably kept me out of trouble too. lol I thought that he was so dumb and so unfair! He didn't know anything! And then I left for college. I was amazed at how much smarter Dad got as my college career went along. I stopped doing the opposite of what he told me to do out of spite and started to actually listen to him. He seemed to know what he was talking about. He was understanding when I didn't do very well my freshman year. I was finally at a place where I couldn't do well without studying. Instead of getting angry with me, he listened and helped me to take some extra classes during the summer to bring my GPA up. He was also supportive when I wanted to change my major from Biology to business. I started to realize that I could actually talk to him. I also started to realize that he would be honest with me, telling me what I needed to hear, rather than what I wanted to hear.
Others realized that my dad knew what he was talking about too. He did so much as an educator and a principal and eventually an administrator. Many people know and respect him for these accomplishments. This picture is of a time when we were all very proud of him. he had been nominated as Man of the Year! That is something to talk about!
When I met Brian and we decided to get married after only 77 days, some fathers would be upset and try to stop it. Instead, he welcomed not only Brian but his three children into the family with open arms. He was thrilled to have grandchildren. He went from being Dad to being Pap-pap. And he did happily.
This picture was from the first Relay for Life that we participated in. At the time, Mom and Dad had four grandchildren with number 5 (Hannah) on the way.
Here we are now...16 grandchildren! Dad, also known as Pap-pap, takes the grandkids hunting and fishing, he cheers them on at basketball and even (gulp!) soccer games. (No small feat for the former football coach! lol) He attends chorus concerts, dance recitals and kindergarten graduation. He is a great grandfather. (Not to be confused with a great-grandfather...not for a while anyway!)
He is also a pretty great dad. Now that I am a parent, I have come to appreciate what a good dad he really is. As a mom, I have been charged with these 9 little human beings. Each one unique and different. Each one comes with their own gifts and blessings and trials. Some of these trials have been terrifying things that no parent should have to face. I have learned through these things that I can turn to my dad and share my struggles. He doesn't always have the answers for me, just as I don't have the answers for my own kids, but it is great to have a sounding board. He continues to get smarter and I hope that I do too. I love you Dad! Happy Father's day!