Yesterday many of us celebrated Father's Day and while trying to make the day relaxing for my husband I also spent the day reflecting back on my father. He was the best father any girl could want. I wish my scanner was working so I could have upload some of my favorite pictures of dad.
By profession he was an iron worker, and on the side a plasterer. I wanted to plaster as well, and tried to talk him into teaching me while I was still in high school. He said if I could lift the bucket of the wet plaster he just mixed he would teach me. Back then I was all of five foot three weighing in at about ninety-five and that bucket of plaster was not budging from the floor. Needless to say, I did not follow in the family side trade.
When I was just out of high school, not sure of what I wanted to do, I toyed with the idea of being an iron worker. (Refer back to what I used to weigh). He was actually willing to give me a shot because there were few female iron workers and it was 19 ___ (omitting year here) so it was Equal Opportunity and all. Actually, I think he may have made the suggestion. My older brother became an iron worker and it worked out well for him. So, I was just about to give it a shot, go down to the hall, become an apprentice (journeyman – can’t really recall the proper term right now) and start building those muscles tying rods. Oh, and getting some sun. Perfect summer job. Except, in order to get out to where I would need to be I had to walk this tiny beam (okay, I know it wasn’t that tiny but it was an iron beam) over the river. I know that there was a net to catch me if I fell but I was still up high. As soon as my father told me this, I focused once again on college. I didn’t care that I was giving up starting pay of something like $15.00 an hour. I am scared to death of heights.
I never appreciated how hard these two jobs were when I was still in grade school. As an adult, I am surprised dad wasn’t physically exhausted when he returned from work each day. Instead, he usually found all of the neighborhood kids in the yard playing baseball (there were enough of us for 7 on each team), and he would change his clothes, come outside and take over as pitcher for both teams.
I should point out that the “ball field” lay between the house and garage. The areas was big enough with the corner of the house being first base, the street (where it met the yard) as second, the corner of the garage as third, and the former sandbox (the wooden part long ago destroyed) was home plate. Outfield was across the street, but neighbors were used to driving slowly down the road in the summer. As soon as the spotted the second baseman and the two outfielders, they would brake and look before determining if it was safe to continue or risk losing a windshield.
It should also be mentioned that at the side of the house there were two windows and one on the garage. At least one window was broken each summer, but dad didn’t seem to care. As an adult, I now realize how much that must have cost him. But, he had as much fun as we did and as fall came around, the patched window was replaced with a new one (no sense putting in a new one while we still had weeks of baseball). However, there is still a crack in the one on the garage. It never got repaired and I hope it never is.
My father was a scout leader, sat on the school board and president the year I graduated from eighth grade so he presented me with my diploma. We didn’t have middle schools back then. I went from Kindergarten through the eighth grade in the same building.
I can remember family vacations, most of which took place in the Lake of the Ozarks at a lovely little resort. Not the spa type that I wouldn’t mind relaxing in. This had a pool, cabins, the Sugar Shack, which had pinball games, juke box and soda machine. My father spent the day on the dock, or taking a boat out to fish. We visited there several summers and it is where my father taught me to fish, where we learned I was a water witch (water witching), and someone bought the wart on my big toe for a quarter (it did disappear in about a month).
I learned from my father to have fun but have a strong work ethic. Laziness was not tolerated, but relaxing when a job was finished was expected. And every Friday night he and my mother dressed up to go out to dinner and then dancing, returning long after I had gone to sleep. I remember the first time he bought me a drink and when he let me take a sip of his beer while we were mowing the family cemetery.
Eventually I grew up, married and moved out of state. I lived in Tucson for three years. During this time, my father became ill and I remember getting the telephone call from my mom telling me that dad had cancer. I flew home many times over the next year until we could move back for good. My first visit upon arriving that Saturday morning after the moving truck was left in the drive was to go to the hospital and see my dad. He died the next Tuesday. So many people have said that he waited to see me one last time. I don’t know if it is true or not and sometimes wish I would have never moved away, so I wouldn’t have missed those last precious years with my father, and the rest of my family who remained in the area. And, I certainly wish he could have been here to know my children. My oldest was 18 months when he passed.
So many times I wish he was still her, to give me guidance or his wisdom, or simply go fishing. He was also an avid golfer. I tried to learn, but I just can’t swing a club and hit that tiny ball. I think one of the few times I ever saw my dad frustrated was when he was trying to teach me to golf. We gave up before I ever stepped foot on a golf course. My brother and sister got that talent from him.
What fond memories do you have of your father?
Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency