- Expats Again
- Munich, Germany
- I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.
Subscribe Now: Feed Icon
Sunday, June 20, 2010
FOR YOU, DAD
Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there! Hopefully, you are with your children and family today and love and joy is filling your household.
I thought I would pay tribute to my father today, even though he passed away back in 1994 at the age of 70. When I think of celebrating Father's Day, all kinds of emotions come to the surface of what it really means to be a father. Most people would say that being a father means being there to guide and teach your youngsters. I would agree. In my case, that was very true. But not every child is so fortunate to have their father "living with them." Circumstances beyond a father's control can have them living for extended periods, and in many cases much of their child's youth, away from their precious children. Servicemen stationed away from home come to mind, but so do fathers who are divorced. Fathers working on oil rigs, in different cities, and in lands far away also come to mind. My heart goes out to each and every one of you fathers who, by misfortune, or circumstance, have separated you from your children. May your Father's day be most blessed.
My father was a true "father figure" in every sense of the term. He was one of those "larger than life" figures that commanded respect and largely, he got it from everyone, except perhaps my mother. To her, he was her husband and whenever he received accolades or awards for achievement, she had a way of reminding him that he put his pants on the same way every other man did. Although loving, she had a way of bringing a person right down to earth. God love her too--she too is deceased.
I had a eerie experience while writing this post. To verify some dates, I Goggled my dad and a whole list of articles came up with his achievements throughout his lifetime--even his obituary was there. But, in between the numerous entries, were other articles about a man with the very same name, in the very same city, and he even attended the very same university where my father dedicated his entire adult career. The only difference was my father was an educator and a coach of men, whereas the other gentleman, if I may call him that, was a convicted murderer who was executed this year. The very same name--very same city--and very same university--but how different their lives turned out.
To my sister, brother, and myself, our father could do no wrong. We were in awe of him. Yet, we had a very close, loving relationship with him. He was the voice of reason and was never out of control. Today, I think back and realize that never once in my life did I ever hear my father use a swear word. Now, my mother could out cuss with the best of them, but in spite of her Irish temper and colorful language--she never succeeded in getting my father to resort to profanity. I learned to respect his restraint.
Language, to my father, was so important that he developed a vocabulary that had us running to the dictionary (no computers in those days) to discover what the heck he was talking about. When he developed a brain tumor at the age of 69, his speech was the last thing to go and it faded away --bit by bit. The doctors said that it was because of the fact that he had built and utilized such a large vocabulary that he was able to make sense, verbally, for as long as he did. My love of language and reading is directly traceable to my father. So much so, that I became a teacher of English; a teacher, like my father.
At one time, early in my father's life, he trained to be an Episcopalian priest. The story goes that he went all the way up until his ordination when he met my mother and then, that was the end of the priesthood. The family always used to joke about that one with the usual kinds of humorous jabs at my mother. She took it all in good spirits. Another story we grew up with was the story of how they met. My mother told us that she was dancing at a dance hall and remembered twirling around with her flouncy skirt, high heels, and long, black hair when she noticed two men enter, look at her, and flip a coin. The next moment one of them, my father, cut in and asked her to dance. She said they both wanted to dance with her and, "Your father won!" My father would tell the very same story, but when it came to who won the coin toss, he would always leave us laughing by saying, "Your mother thinks I won."
Dad was the true disciplinarian in the house. Very early on, when we were young, he was the Dean of Boys at the local high school. I can't tell you how awful it is to be in high school and have your father at the same school in charge of disciplining boys--the ones you wished to date. At least in college, I thought, I will have my own life back. It was at the start of my freshman year in college when my father took his position at my university as director of athletics--so much for dating a jock, I thought. But I enjoyed seeing my dad on campus, visiting him in his office, and lunching with him at the student union. And then, of course, we always had the best basketball, football, and baseball season tickets. Another perk was the many exciting out of state games we attended as a family. Some of the best memories we have were of the championship games in Nevada, Florida, and California, to name a few.
I guess my father's strong personal relationship with God had a large influence on me while growing up. Watching him learn about his brain tumor and telling me that it was his cross to bear and never hearing a word of disappointment or fear from him while he knew all along the frightening aspects of his disease, was a true testimony as to the kind of man he really was. It was my mother who pushed him to seek other opinions. Get radiation and chemotherapy--she was afraid to lose him. If left to my dad, he would have gotten a bottle of scotch and hit every golf course he could before his day came to meet his maker. He had no fear of death; he knew he was spending eternity with his holy father.
Dad was laid back, whereas my mother was a ball of anxiety. It was fun to watch them together as we children got older. Even the grandchildren would laugh at their antics. My mother was no nonsense; it used to tickle my father to raise her hackles whenever he could. After he set the trap, true to her nature, my mother would fall for it --every time-- while my dad and the rest of us kids/grand kids would laugh hilariously at my mother's expense. Most times, she would get the joke and laugh with us. But god forbid, if she didn't. But by then, it was even funnier to us kids.
One of the things I remember most about my father was that in spite of his very busy work life, he dedicated all of his spare time to our family. He made sure we attended church with him, he built us an ice rink in the back yard every winter and we attended every football game when he coached at the high school and college level. In summers, he owned a country club and we spent whole summers with him bouncing around in the water, joining the swim and diving teams, and having the time of our lives. He was the parent we went to for advice; he inspired us, guided us, and encouraged us.
In the Mid American Conference Football League, there is an award named after my father. Notable players in the MAC who are regarded as the best players in the league each year are presented with the award in my father's name. Ben Rothlisberger, Randy Moss, and Chad Pennington, to name a few, are recipients of this award. The award could have been named after anyone, but the fact that they chose my father's name tells me how very respected he was.
Dad was six-foot-four. A powerful man physically with very large hands, according to my two sons, his grandsons, who would shudder at the thought of being on the receiving end of those hands if they disobeyed. He was an athlete in high school and college. He fought in Patton's army in World War II, came back to study on the G.I. bill and got his Master's degree in Administration. I can tell you that it was my father who inspired me to become a teacher as well, to become a lifelong learner, and to also complete my Master's degree. I owe a great debt of gratitude to my father for instilling in me a work ethic which has blessed me time and time again in my lifetime.
I love you, dad. Thank you for all you have given me. You are the best father a child could ever have and we have never forgotten all that you have taught us.