June 21, 2010

A tribute to my father

Shopping for Father’s day cards is difficult.

On one end of things, I never had a “traditional” (or at least what the card companies would have you think) relationship with my dad. I never really saw him pray or read his Bible. We never picked flowers in the back yard together. He was never the kind to hug a lot.

He worked hard to support the family, changed the oil in my car, fix (then break & fix again) appliances around the house. He is a hard working man’s man, who loved us although figuring out how to show us was a challenge. He was raised by parents from a generation where men didn’t cry and they certainly didn’t say “I love you.”

Its frustrating shopping for a card when the sappy relationship is the image of a father/daughter relationship being put out there. If you’ve been a reader of mine a while, you’ll remember that I had to work around this same thing for the father/daughter dance at our wedding reception.

I teased him by having the DJ play the opening chores to “Butterfly Kisses” then there was a record scratch and then the song “Almost home” by Craig Morgan. Nothing says father/daughter bonding like a song about a homeless man that just wants to die.

However macabre, that is “our song” – I’ve made fun of him for crying at a song which obvious tries (IMHO) a little too hard to be poignant. To the point that I call him whenever I hear it, crank up the radio, and hold my cell phone to the speaker.

I want to be real. Have real memories, real moments. Not something Hallmark tells me I should feel for my dad.

I’m ashamed to admit that at times I haven’t been as proud of him as I should be. For most of my life he worked as an “Industrial Mechanic” at a car manufacturing plant, until the plant packed up and moved to another state.

He’s since held a seasonal job as a custodial type worker for one of the nearby City’s parks & rec department. He would cut grass, when needed. Mostly it was his responsibility to keep the park tables cleaned off and the bathrooms cleaned.

His current job is with a sister city’s street department. In the winter he’s constantly on call – he has a route he’s assigned to snow plow and has to go in whenever we have a big snow. Otherwise its pouring asphalt and other general street/sidewalk maintenance.

When I first started dating Jay, I was ashamed of my dad’s job, ashamed of my upbringing. I knew Jay’s previous girlfriend was the daughter of a doctor – a man who threw wine tasting parties at his house often.

The only tasting done at my house was “corn from a jar” in our basement. (If you ever meet my father, I’d suggest bracing yourself if he offers you a cherry or other fruit in a jar.)

Somehow I thought his occupation made him less important. Less significant. Less impressive.

When you get right down to it, what’s more impressive than a man that’s knocking on the door of age 60 and can still hold his own doing manual labor with younger guys?

What’s more impressive than a man who, despite his lack of education beyond high school, used what resources were available to him to always make a steady living?

I can only think of one time that our family was at risk for going hungry, losing our house. That was when my father was told by his doctor that his abdominal pain was nothing, yet less than a day later his appendix ruptured. Shattered really. This one and only time he didn’t provide was when he was so sick he was close to death, and very literally couldn’t.

That’s dedication.

That’s love.

That’s impressive.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to share these thoughts with my father. I would never let him know that I had those traitorous thoughts…was ashamed with how he put food on the table.

So this year, I’ll once again go the humorous route, and thank him for teaching me all that he has.

My father’s day card to him this year:

On the front a picture of a small girl, wrench in hand, working on her bike. To the right there is a thought bubble with (%&#%^$^$%^#) inside.

Inside it says “what can I say, I learned from the best.”

What will go unsaid: Happy Father’s day. Maybe someday I’ll be able to articulate how appreciative I am for everything you’ve done for our family.


  1. I love this, I wish I could go back to younger Mendie and make her appreciate the things Grandpa did more than I showed him. I have only learned as I got older that I didn't thank him nearly enough for being a good man!

  2. Always love the honesty in your posts.

    It's obvious how much you love your dad, and that you guys have a great relationship.

    P.S. Confessions...that Craig Morgan song makes me cry too. LOL

  3. I love this. I understand how you feel, too. & I will never forget the shame I felt as a 13-year-old whose dad found a note I had written to a friend griping about the conditions of our family trip (that he had lovingly planned for us) to see part of the US we hadn't seen before. Ugh! You never want your parents to know how you felt back then! {We have a good relationship now, though, & I think he knows I was just full of teenage angst!}

  4. Aww! I love it! My dad wasn't around a ton growing, but he worked hard starting a business to provide for my family so my mom could stay home with us.

    P.S. I would totally be that little girl work on the bike too! (Or more like the one changing my own oil, only to start my car and have it fly out everywhere, oops.)

  5. Crap I'm under the wrong profile...this is Simplelivin'

  6. What a great post, Brooke. I loved it. Clearly you and your dad have a very special relationship and he's very lucky to have you (as you are lucky to have him).

  7. I can totally relate to this post. My father and I don't have the typical sappy-lovey-dovey father-daughter relationship either. It's usually funny Father's Day cards all the way for him, too.

  8. Why'd you have to make me go and cry in my coffee, girl? I relate to this on SO MANY levels. My dad was/is an aircraft mechanic, and so many times I was ashamed of him. So many times. Now I don't really have a relationship with him at all, which after reading this makes me even sadder :(

    Booohooooooo! I hope you next post is funny :P


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