There is a very special person I wish to write about. This is for my Dad.
He was everything a dad should be. A little girl should always feel protected and special and cherished. He made me feel this way. He was my knight in shining armor. He was my protector. He kept the boogy man at bay. It was Dad who took care of everything in my small life so I never worried about anything. (I thought I probably should, but could never think of anything.) I watched him with a sense of wonder and amazement. He was the most beautiful man in the world to me. I believed every woman crossing his path secretly wished they could be married to MY dad, because was the best. He was the standard to which I measured all other men. It was a pretty high bar and very few guys passed the mustard.
My dad was the smartest person I know and he wanted us to be all that we could be, both intellectually and physically. But he didn’t push us, he pulled us. He set the example and taught us to think independently. He would always say “I don’t care how you do it, just get to this end…” He made us figure out the path.
He continued to teach anyone who would listen. He is teaching our son to work with wood.
I will never forget the years in grade school when, for the umteenth time, I asked him how to spell a word, any word. I knew what his answer would be, but I made the bold attempt regardless. “Go look it up,” he would say. The dictionary became my best friend. Look where it has put me today. I love the use of words!
Dad came from a line of fine craftsmen, wood-workers. All of my uncles make their livings with their hands. My dad loved to work with wood. Our garage was always filled with saws and drills and tools of all kinds. You could never get the car in there for the projects he had underway. We always approached the garage with trepidation for any kid was quickly roped into sanding some piece of wood. I hated to sand wood. It was a job requiring more patience and care than I was willing to put forth, not to mention elbow grease. That didn’t matter to him. He had six children and that meant twelve little hands were at his disposable.
Dad refinished the chairs that stood around the family table. You have no idea how many small pieces a chair consists of, and they all require dutiful sanding. He built numerous huge book cases for all the hundreds of books in our family library. He built each of us a small desk and over head shelf to hang on the wall. In a room where we had no privacy (I always shared with my sister) this small corner was my little haven. The items in the shelves were private as well as the space on the desk. Heaven help my sister if she ever touched anything on MY desk. Dad also built a couple of houses, beautiful houses. He did cabinets and shelves and more cabinets. He made tables and small pieces of furniture. I loved everything he created.
Dad also had a passion for cars. He loved to work on his transportation. We had an old Mercedes-Benz years ago. He and my mom redid the entire interior, upholstery, wood accents, roof interior. He and Colet did the same thing to an old airplane they bought – remade the interior. He constructed tiny amenities for the inside of their trailers. He always believed things could be improved upon and nothing was too difficult to accomplish.
Dad was the quintessential mechanic-always tinkering, always fixing a noise, always making it better. He rebuilt quite a few of his cars and his airplane. His mind was always churning. He was remarkable.
Did I mention my Dad flew jet planes for a living? He was an Air Force fighter pilot. Perhaps it was the freedom he experienced in the air that lent to his endless creative life.
He also taught college economics for several years while holding down a regular day job. He loved to teach. Hence: “Go look it up.”
Dad was also intensely spiritual. He lived with a fierce belief in the Almighty and a tangible reality that miracles did indeed occur. They happened in his life. My path in life was shaped in large part by my Dad. He taught me about prayer and faith and guarded those things savagely. I bless the Lord for making me his daughter and allowing me to know and love him.
My dad passed away Monday. He leaves a legacy in his wake: six children and sixteen grandchildren. He will be remembered as a man who touched the world with love and joy and a fierce sense of living. All those who knew him are better for it.
This was a good size section of my piece of heaven.