Once upon a time – in a land of black and white – there lived a family. Not perfect by any means. Not awful by any means. Not big – not small – not rich – not poor….. just a family that did the best it could. Sometimes falling down, but more oft than not – pulling together to give a little more than they took. Just an American family in a small town like many other families during the 1950’s.
I was cruising through Mom’s 1955 journal tonight and came across a few lines about the man I am blessed to call Dad. He worked at the Flxi – like many of the men and a few of the women did in those days (including my Grandma Mac). He got vacation days as well. On Wednesday of this week, he took vacation. Not to go on a trip. Not to do the things he might have wanted to do. He took vacation days to be involved with my brother and his boy scout troop as they went off for an extended weekend camp. B.b. and Dad worked on a trailer. Made “umpteen trips” with that trailer to camp. Spent nights with the troop, and sometimes, I was lucky enough to get to go with mom to visit them. He is that “Dad”.
Nights after working all day, he would string up a rope swing for his little girl to do “twisters” on – that made her very sick sometimes because it could twist so high. He helped her build a manger for her doll babies and donkey at Christmas, so she could enter a Christmas decorating contest. I’m not sure who won the donkey at the fair – whether it was dad or my big brother, but it was one of them. He taught me to dance at Boy Scout dances with sand on the floor of the youth building and me standing on his feet. He taught me to catch the baton behind my back – never to walk by the railroad track when a train was coming – or play anywhere close to the dam when we went there on picnics. He taught me to ride a bike and drive a car (mom and I would have killed each other). He cooked on the grill the best hamburgers in the world (unlike mom who tended to burn everything she touched) and fried the best fish eggs/fish/oysters. He taught me to plant trees and gardens.
But more than all those things is what he showed me by just living his life. He volunteered his time after work to help build the Youth Building, direct the legion minstrel, took a Dale Carnegie course and became a 32nd degree Mason, not to mention volunteering for a multitude of other activities. I can’t count the times, mom wrote about family members staying at the house for days or weeks. I loved it – because it usually meant cousins came to stay for a while. He bought a house for his sister, Viola, when she retired from the telephone company, so that she would have a place to live. He was fixing it up for her when he had his last heart attack. I found him praying at my bedside when I woke up in the hospital with a bad case of mono. And when I went to college, he always made the trips down to pick me up and bring me home. Those are the times I remember most. Long talks about so many things. Long talks that have stuck with me even after all these years because he taught me about God.
What I would give to “Dance with My Father Again”. He is that kind of dad and I am still his little girl.