Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ten Things I Forgot to Thank My Father For

Awww... you didn't think I could thank mom for all her sacrifices without thinking of some of the crazy stuff we put dad through did you?

Two really good lookin' people who were
destined to have really good lookin' kids.
And grandkids.
My parents have been married for over 35 years. They either love each other very much, or couldn't stand the thought of having to start over and raise more children. Since I'm an optimist, I'm going to believe it's the former. Dad was there right alongside mom, teaching and working to make sure my sister and I learned  how to be confident and independent - and not living at home for the rest of our lives.

Unlike moms, dads have a different kind of responsibility toward their children. Let's face it, if the kids don't bathe for a week and they break a fingernail or two before they learn to chew them off... would dad really care?

Fathers have a high tolerance for things mothers don't. That tolerance is what helps them teach their children about the great outdoors when camping for a week with no showers in sight. Nobody ever died of a little bug bite, and a bloody mess that leaves a scar but doesn't kill you "builds character". Dads know how to do "stuff". They fix things, build things, and jump in alongside you as if they too were nine years old. Dads deserve their own kind of thanks for the things we've forgotten.

Dad, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for:

1) Waking me up for school every morning. I now realize you probably dreaded waking me up more than I dreaded getting up. The cold water in the spray bottle though? That was genius.

"Like this Daddy. Good job!"
2) Yelling "Quit splashing!" and "I'd better not see water all over the floor in there!" Instead of just cutting bathtime from 30 minutes to three. You knew we were having fun. You also knew we were still going to get the floor sopping wet, no matter how much yelling was involved.

3) Going with me to the police station to take a bike safety class. And not being angry that I was required to attend because I got a "ticket" for riding on the wrong side of the street. Oh, and for letting me ride my bike all over town in the first place, even if mom wasn't so keen on the idea.

"...and if you turn the hose on really slow,
in the morning you'll have icicles."

4) Hanging the Christmas tree lights every year, inside and outside. Also, thanks for finding that one light that had burnt out. Thank goodness those are now "the good 'ol days".

I loved the icicles we had on our house in Florida. Sure, we knew you'd climbed up there with the water hose in order to get the icicles to form, but now I realize it was an extra effort you took just for the enjoyment of your family. (And trust me, I'm still talking about it three decades later - it was really fun.)

5) Teaching me to drive. (A stick shift no less!) I don't remember being traumatized or even scared when I got behind the wheel. I do remember the "mall cop" stopping us and asking what we were doing. I guess driving in circles in the parking lot at 9 pm on Sundays was a bit unusual back then.

"Daddy would never get this done
without my help!"
6) Teaching me the difference between a pipe wrench, adjustable wrench and socket wrench. You always let me "help" you do the jobs around the house, yard and in the garage. I learned a lot as you patiently taught me tasks that must have taken twice as long to complete when I was at your side.

7) Making me practice changing the tire on my car before letting me drive across the country. Oh, and showing me how to jump start a car. I wish I could remember what you taught me...

8) Letting me drive across the country. I still love traveling, and driving out to school in Wisconsin, on to New  York, down to Florida, and back home again holds many fond memories for me. I don't yet know what it's like to send your kid down the road with a spare tire and full tank of gas, but I can't imagine it was easy. Thanks for teaching me what I needed to know, and trusting me to use it.

9) Teaching me to respect my elders. Thanks for giving me a "dressing down" when I spoke badly about Grandpa, even though I know he drove you crazy too. Respect, loyalty and compassion were all traits you taught, not just through words, but through actions.

"Grandpa, Gracie says baseball games and camping
isn't just for boys. What do you think? Should
we let her in the club?"

10) Hiking up mountains, taking me to baseball games, camping for a week, and doing other things mom would rather not. I'd play outdoors all day and have a nice warm fire, dinner from a can, and s'mores when we got back to camp. Climbing Half Dome in Yosemite was by far the coolest hike we ever did. I still tell stories about that trip. (And my head swells with pride at the accomplishment - which would never have happened without your determination to get us to the top!)

The rules to baseball were explained over and over, and hot dogs and sodas accompanied my cousins and I as we watched our team play. I even remember playing baseball outside on Christmas day, and getting hit in the head with a baseball while sliding into home base... now we know what's wrong with me.

Kim and I still laugh about our trip into the Everglades. Only a dad would take his two girls primitive camping with "barking" alligators lurking about in the middle of the night! I love remembering the time we spent together. Those memories would never have happened if you'd left it up to mom!

Thanks dad, for everything.

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