Father’s Day – My Father Was a Special Guy

Today is Father’s Day. I often think about my father because he was a special guy. He was 92 when he passed away in 2006. There are so many times that I want to ask him questions. It might be anything from “who are the people in this picture” to “how old were you when your family moved to Minneapolis?” I miss the conversations that we had. My dad was even tempered, calm, inquisitive, creative, supportive, reliable, and bright. He never went to college because his parents never brought the subject up. He easily could have been accepted because he was one of the top students in his huge high school class. He did attend business school. He worked for the same company for 46 years and was a member of Toastmaster for over 50 years. I can recall a time in his career when he spoke out against the president of his company because the guy was not a very nice person. He didn’t get advanced in his career as fast as the guys who were “brown-nosing” the president. He always stood up for his convictions. I find I do that too.

My dad made a big deal about sending out handmade Christmas cards to 450 people. Each year he designed the card with a theme. For several years each card had a linoleum block design on the front. To do that he put the block on the paper, bent down and put it on the floor, stood up and stepped on it, bent down to pick it up and then brought it out to another room in our basement to dry. He did that 450 times. Each card had a picture in it, which we developed in the dark room in our basement. I loved helping my father do that. The picture dried and then got glued on the card. My parents hand addressed the cards as there was no such thing as a computer at that time. Eventually he replaced the linoleum block with silk screen. I remember one year when he silk screened on 6 colors. That meant that he would screen one color and then bring it to the other room to dry. He did that 6 times!!! It was a labor of love for them. Many people collected the cards through the years because they were so unique.

Dad bought his first computer from my business when he was 79. He had never used one before that time and needed the computer to write a family tree. He learned how to use a scanner (at least 4 years before my husband and I did) and was on his 4th computer when he died. He adapted to new technology well so his later Christmas cards had scanned pictures and a short letter. He would fold it in thirds, put a label on the outside, stamp and send it. In 2003 when my mother died, he had his usual Christmas card along with a second sheet where he scanned lots of pictures of Mom and then proceeded to write a “Tribute to Ann.” He told everyone why he thought she was wonderful and how much he missed her. It was very touching.

We always took many trips when I was growing up. My brother and I were were in at least 48 states by the time we graduated from high school. During those years we drove instead of fly. After Dad retired, my parents would travel and Dad would take lots of pictures with his fancy cameras. He had the best pictures blown up by a professional developer into large sizes. He would mat and frame them, and sell them to friends and at street fairs. It was a second career for him and a great way to write off their trips.

While growing up my dad told me that I would go to college, not get married or pregnant while in college, and I would graduate and work in a career. This was not an option. – it was what was expected of me. I went to college to create a career for myself and found out later that several of my friends went there to get their MRS. degree. I did get married after college but we waited 8 years before having children. Our son went to college in Minnesota so he would be closer to his grandparents. He often spent vacations with them during the school year. Our daughter was barely back from being in Ghana, West Africa in the Peace Corps for 2-1/2 years before she left to spend several weeks with my dad.

Many people think their dad can do anything. My dad actually could. Whatever the project was around the house, he could do it. When I was young he finished off our basement. That disappointed my brother and me because then we couldn’t roller skate down there. It did prove to be a nice space for parties. My only disappointment with growing up was that Dad did not teach me how to throw a ball. I was OK with big balls like volleyballs but smaller sized balls have me shutting my eyes when they come towards me – not a good practice. Such a minor thing in the grand scheme of things though. I was lucky to have had such a wonderful man as my father. I realize that many people are not so lucky.

Do you have some stories to share about your father?

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