Dad’s always there
Posted February 28, 2011on:
Every year on March 3, I get to missing my Dad. He pulled a fast one on me and died on March 3, 2003. He knew that I’d take notice of all of those threes, and he also told me about the cardinal at his bird feeder before he died. It just so happened that a cardinal showed up three times in three weeks after he died. They say there are no coincidences, and now I believe them.
My Dad was a handsome man even when he got older, put on weight and his health deteriorated. He still possessed that sparkle in his eye, and he knew how to aggravate my Mom and me. His aggravation at home usually earned him a long trip to the garage, so that my Mom could cool off from his latest prank.
My Dad spoiled all the kids. Before I was born, he spoiled his nieces and after I arrived, we had a great time hanging out together on the farm. I loved to go digging worms with him to go fishing, and he worked in one of the farm buildings while I caught mice in the corn crib. It was great fun. He also took me with him on the tractor and on the combine.
As I got older and when my brother showed up, things changed, but he always took great care of me. He became a supervisor on the township and eventually was the road foreman. He plowed all the roads open when we had blizzards in the winter and paved and patched all the roads that needed repair in the summer months. His work ethic never wavered. He always did a fabulous job, but people found fault and hounded him at every juncture. It wasn’t pleasant, but he dealt with it.
He tried his best to keep me his little girl. My Mom was the one to teach me to drive, but he took me to buy my first car. I decided on a 1962 Chevy with a four-speed Hurst shifter, a four-barrel carburetor, a 326 engine and a dual muffler system. I loved it, and he drove it home. On an open stretch of highway, he decided to open it up and found the throttle stuck. What a ride we had. Months later, unbeknownst to him, I took it out on the “Road to No Where” and opened her up to 120 mph. I loved that car.
At 19, I decided to get married and nine years later we moved to Arizona. My Dad was so upset the morning we were to leave that he backed into our car. It was only a dent in the door, and I drove it that way until we got rid of it. A few years after arriving in Arizona, I decided to go to ASU. I got my degree and my Dad and I had some rip-roaring conversations about educated people. He forgot I had a degree until I pointed it out to him, and then his answer was, “Well, I didn’t mean you.”
In 1992, my marriage ended, and Mom and Dad drove out to Phoenix. Dad thought he’d pack me up and take me home where I belonged. He mustn’t have felt too confident about that decision though because he brought me all kinds of tools. I got screw drivers and fasteners, some huge pruning equipment and saws for my plants, and anything else he thought I’d need to survive on my own. I still use those tools, and I still think of him.
My Dad made the most beautiful furniture and Christmas ornaments out of wood. I received a gorgeous combination bookcase and desk that I made sure came to Arizona with me. He made Christmas ornaments with intricate designs and snowmen until he had a stroke and could no longer remember the pattern. He made huge jewelry chests, a cupola for a friends barn, a small ark for the church, gun cabinets and other wonderful creations.
Dad always wanted to know why I read so many books because I was going to die eventually anyway. His questions sometimes sent me into a diatribe, and he’d sit and laugh. He gave me lots of advice, and he’d say, “I give you all this great advice and you never listen.” My answer was, “Dad, I listen to everything you tell me, and then I decide what I’m going to use.” He’d shake his head or mumble and get that shitty smile of his face, and I’d know that he was just teasing. I didn’t usually get into trouble with him, but when he started spouting his Pennsylvania Dutch, “Gut in Himmel,” I knew I hit a nerve.
My Dad was a character. No doubt that they used him as a pattern for Archie Bunker, but he was a genuine, honest, loving man, who I sincerely miss each and every day. I have no fear that he watches over me like he always did and one of these day, I’ll get to tag along with him again.
Photos by Janice Semme & L. M. Grim