Head to toe for Father’s Day
There I stood in front of the mirror in overall chaos.
My hair was in a real muddle, the extra pounds peeking out more than I wanted, and the mirror telling me I no longer looked like Robert Redford! I actually uttered the words “from this view one would think I have been shipwrecked for days!” Those words fell on little ears, and I heard in a very sweet voice, “Oh, Daddy, you look fine. Now hurry up so we can get some popsicles from the store!” As I glanced down, there stood Lydia-big eyes shining. She was attired in pink with her pink purse on her shoulder. Her little hand tapping my leg saying, “Daddy, you look nice!” Oh the moments that our children adore us-can there be anything more rewarding?
As a child, I never went through the stage that I was embarrassed to be seen with my parents. I did know of parents who were instructed to get behind the potting soil in the garage, to enter buildings solo, or even lounge around the back bumper of their family car like it was a dessert bar! All this so the child could look parentless! Good heavens!
My sense of humor comes from my Dad, and he is a real natural. I still smile when I think about him talking about his tractor. It was never “John Deere.” It was always “Dear John!” It was always this sense of humor that prevailed when situations were awkward.
For example, the time my mother drove the wrong way down a one-way street in Bismarck. Our car always had a dish towel or two available (You learn that traveling with five boys that dish towels certainly can come in handy!) Once I realized we were on the one-way, I grabbed the dish towel, wrapped it around my head, and screwed up my eyes so I looked in urgent pain. The finishing touch had to be my hand to the forehead-it made it look real serious! Next thing we knew, cars were pulling over and we whipped into the parking lot of the Bismarck Hospital.
My Dad was an electrician and his truck was adorned with wires, reels, and tools. It looked as if he were in competition with Sanford and Son. I clearly recall going for supplies to Minot and on the way out of town, we had to make a stop at the shopping mall. We pulled up beside a swell Cadillac, and the folks sitting in it gave us the once over. As we poor peddlers exited our rig, I extended my hand and said, “Don’t worry-we are as friendly as the Beverly Hillbillies.”
Another time my Dad took the wrong way down a one way. This time I had a counterpart–my younger brother, Kelly. Dad’s pickup always had a surplus of cardboard, black markers and old wire! We quickly wrote on a piece of cardboard “Underwood or Bust,” punched a wire through it, and hung it out the window!
In so many ways, I see myself in Lydia and that is only natural since I am her father. In the past five years, we have spent a great deal of time together. It is, however, in this past year that she is expressing herself much more verbally. Often the words, “Daddy, I love you” are verbalized. They can come at the end of day when we are saying our prayers, sketching roses, or even on an ice cream run to the Dairy Queen.
As a father, I turn to the upbringing that my parents showed and instilled in me. My Dad never went anyplace when I was young without having his hair combed in perfect order. He was blessed with heavy, red, curly hair and for years he dressed it out with southern rose hair oil which came in a very tall bottle from Arnold’s Barber Shop in Underwood. This hair oil not only smelled great, it actually was a perfect shade of deep pink rose. As a child, we dressed out my hair like his, and that is a feeling that still touches me today.
My Dad had the misfortunate of having his foot run over as a child, and it gave him a slight limp. This setback certainly never affected his determination. It did, however, make him keenly aware of tending to the feet of his children. It was his observation and concern that detected my incorrect step. For several years, I had to wear corrective shoes, and we made regular visits to the Bismarck Hospital. It was on one of these visits that mom drove down the wrong way on the one way!
I’ll never forget the day I strolled down the long hospital hall and Dr. Johnson proclaimed corrective shoes were history. It was a great day! My Dad immediately took me to the shoe store around the corner and bought me a red pair of cowboy boots, dress shoes of my choice, a pair of tennis shoes, and the sweetest tan pair of elf-shaped bedroom slippers your eyes could imagine.
My Dad took care of me from head to toe, and in this process he taught me some very valuable lessons about life. He taught me the most valuable gift you can give to your child is your time-especially everyday.
My Dad was not blessed with a daughter. However, his daily guidance has given me a firm foundation for raising our daughter. One of the great joys from our marriage is to watch Jan and her dad, Norman Thompson, interact and connect. They have the connection that goes beyond any hopes or wishes. I know, without a doubt, that each year has brought meaningful increments for them. The first time he held her, her big hugs and talks with ‘Babysister’, his sharing of the farm equipment, her first piano solo, his sharing of knowledge of crops, her love of similar foods and habits, his checking of her car oil, her guided awareness of the weather, his damp and pleased eyes as she was hooded with her master’s degree, her steps into motherhood, his hands around his granddaughter, her hands together for his medical concerns, his victorious smile after surgery.
The riches are many in our home this Father’s Day, and I hope the same is true in your family. Time can elude many things, but I do believe the last to flee is our father’s love and our love for our dads. May all men have a wonderful Father’s Day.
Repnow is a
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