coal miner, steel worker, veteran, wood worker, mechanic, artist, fisherman
My Dad died four years ago today, but it seems like yesterday. Oh, not the dying part. The dying part seems like a lifetime ago. I mean the living part seems like yesterday. I was a Daddy’s girl. It didn’t mean Daddy loved me best of his four daughters. Nope. My three sisters had their own strong bonds with my Dad, but I spent a lot of time with him from my earliest days: He used to tuck the baby me into his hunting jacket and take me along. I figure I spent hours in the deer stand with him, snug and warm inside his hunting jacket. I have that jacket and sometimes I wear it, especially when it’s cold outside, as I walk around my yard and look at the birds and squirrels and raccoons; it’s the closest I come now to hunting.
Daddy never seemed to mind that I stuck to him like a burr, following him around when he was home. From my earliest memories until I moved out of the house when I got married at twenty-one I always wanted to help him do whatever it was he was doing. And he always had some project or another going. The great part of it was that he didn’t just humor me. Nope. I worked alongside him and I learned a ton. Finish the second floor? No problem. I helped him carrying the paneling upstairs from the truck, measured and taped off the paneling at the proper spot so he’d get a good clean cut when he sawed it, handed him the finishing nails as he hammered his way along the walls. He never yelled at me when I made a mistake. He never let on that I was anything other than his capable assistant.
When I bought my junky old car at age eighteen, he changed the first tire then stood back and watched as I changed the other three. Why? So I’d know how to do it if I got a flat when he wasn’t around. He showed me how to set the timing in my car so it ran more smoothly, how to hook up the cables and ground to jump the battery so I wouldn’t get shocked doing it the wrong way and more. He taught me how to be independent.
That man was a very good listener. And I talked, a lot, especially as I got older. He didn’t try to solve my problems or even offer much advice as I talked. He taught me how to rely on myself and figure it out. When he spoke it was often about family: colorful, real everyday tales. My Dad taught me his history and mine.
My Dad was a good man, a simple man who wanted a roof over his head, good food on the table and a steady job. He achieved that and more, much more.