Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thinking of My Dad

I'm in Utah staying with my daughter.  My granddaughter is downstairs making a Father's Day card for her father.  Since my father is no longer living, I no longer have the opportunity to tell him how important he was to me, or how important he remains in my life.

A Tribute To My Father



A Photo of My Father
A Peace Rose from My Garden


The day I was born, my father had to drive my mother to the hospital and then leave for Denver so he could be processed into the army.  At age thirty, he was drafted.  Uncle Sam still needed men, so despite his age and the fact that he had a wife, a child, and another child on the way, he was called up and shipped out.  He liked to say Hitler gave up when he heard my father had joined the army.  In truth, he never went overseas to fight.  He spent his time stateside working as a clerk.  He missed the first year of my life.  I'm sure I missed a lot not having him there also.  I've always loved this photo taken when my father came home from the service in 1946.


It seems difficult to write a narrative about this man who was my father.  I cannot be objective on the subject because I am his daughter and I adored him.  I thought he was terribly funny.  He was funny.  He had a dry wit and could think of the greatest puns.  He had the greatest sense of humor and told the best stories.  He always made me laugh.

I could listen to his stories forever as he drove through the beautiful mountain passes of Colorado.  He knew so much Colorado history.  He loved his native state of Colorado and taught us to protect her beauty.  We spent many happy hours camped along beautiful clear Colorado streams in the summer.  We were taught to always leave our campsite better than we found it.  We were taught not to leave a trace that we had been there.

My father was a reader.  He loved to read.  I learned to love to read because I wanted to be a member of his club.  Reading was such an important part of his life.  He could never understand people who didn't like to read.  He always had a book at his side.  As he got older and suffered from diabetes, he was so grateful for the lending library in Denver who sent him large print books on a very regular basis.

He also liked to write.  He wrote long letters to his children and his mother.  He wrote family histories.  He compiled family genealogy.   He wrote narratives about his childhood memories in Colorado Springs.  He had a large correspondence that he maintained with family members throughout the country who also worked on family genealogies.  I wonder if he would have written a blog.  I wonder what he would think of mine.  He submitted some of his writing about various topics to be kept in the archives of his alma mater, Colorado College.

Actually, Daddy never graduated from Colorado College.  He quit after marriage during the depression when he only had a few hours left to complete.  I don't know if he ever regretted quitting college with so few hours left to complete.  He went to work for the railroad and worked there his entire life.  He started as a clerk and retired as regional manager.  He was always grateful for the good life the railroad gave him, and the good retirement.  He followed his father's footsteps in working for the railroad.  His father was a telegrapher.  I am a railroader's daughter and have always loved the way my life was intertwined with railroad history and lore.  I love my memories of growing up riding on trains.

My father was a generous man.  He was one to always want to help those who might have a legitimate need.  The day before he died, we were gathered in his room talking to a nurse who was sharing her story of fighting cancer and how hospice was such a Godsend to many.  She told of her struggle to get well and to keep working.  We thought Daddy was not aware of what was being said that night.  When the nurse left the room, he said, "Mother, make sure you write a check as a gift to that nurse.  She needs some help."

Daddy was a strong Christian.  He had been a drinker, had a temper, and swore like a trooper when we were younger.  In his early 60's, he gave his life back to the Lord.  The transformation was obvious to all who knew him.  One of my favorite memories is remembering how mother would read the Bible to him every night before he went to bed in the last years of his life.  When he died, he was ready.  He kept saying he wanted to go and be with the Lord.

He was not a perfect man.  He scared off every boyfriend I ever had, or tried to scare them off.  He had a short fuse.  He was demanding.  I always said his bark was worse than his bite.

He worked hard.  He earned a good living and provided well for us.  He was not overly demonstrative.  He did not express his emotions of tenderness.  He was a product of his generation.  Men went to work and earned the money.  Women stayed home and raised the kids.  He expected good behavior out of us, and I lived in fear of disappointing him and bringing on his wrath.

Some of my most precious memories are of his final days on this earth.  I spent the last days at his bedside.  My sisters and my oldest son were there much of the time.  It was a blessing to be there and try to ease those last days that he spent in a body that had been broken down by diabetes and congestive heart failure.

I held those hands that I had always loved a lot of time.  I tried to memorize how they looked so I would remember all they had done for me throughout my life.  They had dug out a basement below our house.  They had remodeled more than one house that we lived in.  They had painted many walls and pounded many nails.  They had caught many fish.  They had held many books.  They had written many letters, memos, and narratives.  They had typed papers in the army on old fashioned upright typewriters and learned to write on a computer.  They had spanked my bottom on a few occasions.  They had been manicured by me when I was younger.  I loved to give manicures, and he was a willing subject.  I miss holding my daddy's hand.

I long ago forgave him of his shortcomings.  I've tried to live my life in such a way as to make him proud.  When I was working, I always used him as my role model on how to conduct myself in the workplace.

He was my daddy.  I was his Sally Lou.  I remember when he died that I was filled with absolute certainty that he loved me, that he was proud of me, and that seemed to be enough for both of us.
Graduation Day
B.S. in Business Administration
Mother & Daddy at My Side

34 comments:

Grandmother said...

Our fathers shared some similar history and values since we're just a year apart in age. This was such a heartfelt tribute to him and your relationship with him. Thank you for sharing it. I bet he'd have loved your blog!

DJan said...

He sounds like he was a wonderful person, and he must be very proud of you today. You sure look a lot like your mom in that last picture, Sally.

I am very honored to have learned so much about your father. He lived a good life.

Joanne said...

your post made me cry. what a wonderful gift to know and feel that you are loved.. and what a wonderful gift you were to him because he knew that you loved him. what a loving tribute to your Dad....and what a blessing that he was so faithful that when the time came he was ready to be with the Lord. Your pictures are so telling. He was strong and brave and protective of his family. ...and he loved you all. and I know he still does. That kind of love NEVER dies. Beautiful post! Have a great day! Blessings, Joanne

Bossy Betty said...

Your post was so moving. I loved your perspective here and your details too. He was a man like so many of that generation who did what they needed to do....

A great tribute here.

Buschy said...

Thanks Aunt Sally for this post. I miss him a lot too, I loved every moment of our visits together.

Jeanie said...

I loved reading this, Sally. Your father sounds like a wonderful man who gave the best he had to his family. Your memories about his hands and all they had done was very touching.

Beth said...

A wonderful tribute for your father on this special day for dads.

The photos are great!

Arkansas Patti said...

This might be the most complete tribute to a father I have read. You saw all the good, understood the lacks and forgave what hurt.
Just a beautiful post.

Thisisme. said...

What a wonderful rose in your header photo. I had a rose in mine, until I put the wedding photo on a few days ago. I so agree with the quotation "a garden is an autobiography", because my garden really is just me!! Thank you so much for becoming my latest Follower, and I hope you don't mind if I follow you from over here in England. I look forward to getting to know you. Your profile photo is so pretty. Your post for Fathers Day is absolutely awesome. Such a wonderful tribute to your dad. I loved it that he wrote long letters to his family. That is really lovely. A very warm and touching tribute. He was obviously very much loved by you, as you were by him.

Jean said...

A wonderful tribute to your dad. I bet he would write a blog if he were here today!

Nat said...

This is a really wonderful tribute to your dad. I was so interested to read about the details of his life, and to see the photos too was a treat.

becca said...

what a beautiful tribute to your dad he sounded like a great man. thank you for sharing him with us.

Everyday Life

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Ah yes, our dads had a lot in common. My dad left for the war when I was about 8 months old, and I treasure similar old photos. He wasn't gruff, but didn't manage to say "I love you" until quite late in life. I, too, held his hands a lot toward the end, and we both knew we loved each other. I'm thinking that if he liked to write, he'd have enjoyed your blog and just maybe started one of his own. Happy Fathers Day.

rosaria said...

A beautiful tribute. He'd be so proud of you today.

#1Nana said...

Lovely memories. He would be proud to see that his love of writing lives in you.

Sandy said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Dad, it definitely brought a tear to my eye. As I get older I notice many funny quirks that my Dad had that somehow I' have inherited, I love that, it makes me feel close to him. It's hard to believe he's been gone for three years... Lovely post.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Dad! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

Olga said...

This is just a lovely tribute to your dad. You did not pretend he was perfect, but you certainly did not have to justify your love for him. It really got me thinking about my own dad and his influence on my life.

Jeanie said...

Sally, what a beautiful tribute. His gifts to you were many; I'm sure you were a great gift to him. I do think one of the great gifts of growing older is being able to understand our parents, their choices, how they raised us, all those things, with more clarity. It sounds as though you were well matched. Much as I know he would love to read this tribute on a blog, I'm quite sure he already knew.

Cape Cod Kitty said...

What a lovely tribute, Sally. I can see where many of your fine qualities came from, and I think your father would just love your blog!
Your father represents the very best of the generation in which he was raised, and you wrote it so eloquently. Thanks for sharing these beautiful memories with us!

Vagabonde said...

What a tender post to the memory of your dad. I am sure he would be so proud of you and your blog. My father was in the war when I was born.
I like the pictures you showed. What a lovely tribute on Father’s Day.

Kay said...

Oh my gosh, Sally. This is so beautiful. What a perfect tribute to this wonderful man who happened to be your dad. You were very lucky to have such a terrific father. I am so happy for you.

fiftyodd said...

How great to know your dad was proud of you. Lucky girl.

Ms Sparrow said...

What a nice tribute to your father.
I was a year old when WWII broke out. My dad was 30, so he moved mom and me from Minnesota to California where he worked at Lockheed Aircraft for the duration. I was 5 when we moved back to Minnesota with 3 siblings.

KathyA said...

A special tribute for your wonderful father!

gayle said...

You are such a wonderful writer!! I really enjoyed reading about your father!! He sounds like he was a very special!

Lavi said...

Your story made me a little sad. I lost mine not two years ago and your story reminded me of him. You had a wonderful dad and I'm sure that he in turn also had a wonderful daughter.

Terry said...

I am so late to my blog readins! This was very beautiful Sally, a loving tribute to your father. He does sound like a wonderful person, it's such a gift to know we are loved by our father's. I think that since they are the first men we love they have such influence on our future relationships.

Rachel Cotterill said...

What a lovely tribute.

Sush said...

Hi, I was inspired to visit your blog by Diane of SouthamsDarling! I've browsed about your lovely writings and am in awe. You have a magnificent way with words and have touched me deeply. I'll be checking in from time to time to listen to your heart!
Hugs~

Deb Shucka said...

Your dad sounds like he was an incredible man. You've given him his humanity here, and balanced that out with so much love and compassion. It's clear his lessons took hold - look at what a wonderful woman his daughter turned out to be.

KleinsteMotte said...

Father's remain with us even when we loose them and your tribute to him is so befitting. I love they way you try to remember what his hands were like because of what they represent. And the railroad rides. we had those too.

Mare said...

I feel as though I know him as a result of your eloquent tribute. You have been blessed in many ways. [One of which is certainly your ability to write and express real emotion.] I'll bet your dad is holding hands with other family members who have joined him. Smiling, too.

Anonymous said...

Sally, I loved this article. I have a memory of your dad I would like to share with you. I am not sure that I am completely correct, but here goes. Your father was laying in bed, (here is the part I am not sure of)and our family went to see your dad, because he had been burnt. Laurie was teething and mother handed Laurie over to Uncle Bill so he could see her. He raised her up over his body and sure enough, Laurie drooled in uncle Bill's mouth. It made us all laugh. Hope this has put a smile on your face. Love Kathy Anne