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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Pick-Me-Up (in honor of Father's Day)

My dad is odd.  Yes, I know I mentioned how goofy my mom is in my blog about her last month, but really, in comparison, my dad wins the prize.

But he’s also cool. He was a pilot in the Air Force, has some very interesting stories about those years, and he even briefly drove a limo for the building tenants where Dear Abby lived, as one of his side jobs.  (We won't get into who got a ride to school in that limo, but it was the same sibling of mine mentioned in my blog about mom, who was nursed and not bottle-fed, like me.)​
  
​And he was a good-looking dad—something my high school girlfriends reminded me of, often.
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There were times dad worked three jobs so mom could stay home with us kids, and we were told to go to mom for things.  And she did all the disciplining.​

​Except the one and only time I got grounded, right before my 16th birthday.  How convenient—I spent the night of my 16th birthday in my room! As the only daughter, I was supposed to be my dad's "princess."  Unfortunately for dad, mom delegated the grounding job to him.  I remember dad coming into my bedroom to tell me I was grounded.  He looked so miserable, I know he felt worse than I did!  And I felt like I'd let him down.

Years later, when I called my mom to break the news my husband and I were separating, something I braced myself for as my parents are strict Catholics, I sobbed uncontrollably, feeling like I'd not only failed my marriage, but failed my parents as well.  When my mom and I were done talking, with reassurances from her that she was supportive of me, and things would be okay, I remember saying, “Please don't tell dad. He's going to be so disappointed in me."

Mom replied, "Jill, he knows.  He's been on the phone in the basement the whole time listening."  That was it, I cried so hard I couldn’t talk (a rarity for me,) feeling I'd disappointed him again, until he said, "It’s okay, Jill, we love you."  And although my mom had said the same thing, hearing it from my dad—a man who rarely talked of his feelings at that time—helped mend my grieving heart.
  
When my daughters were growing up, they compared some of my dad’s behavior to “Rain Man.”  No, he’d be no help to us in Vegas, but one of their reasons for comparison was his odd habit of walking laps around their ping-pong table as a source of exercise during the winter.  He knew how many laps made a mile​.  A lot.

He's got a great sense of humor, and is a people-person, just like my mom.  He'll ask you a million questions when he meets you, but it is only because he is genuinely interested in what you're saying.  And he'll remember what you said!  At almost 81 years old, his memory is like a steel trap.

Dad is smart, and loves technology—embracing it, when most run the other way at his age. And like my mom, he's a volunteer-aholic and has received awards for his work.  His main focus is Hospice, something that might surprise people who know him from his younger years. As an only child, dad was raised riding the world-revolves around-me horse.

​When dad retired, mom sat him down.  “Listen.  You aren't changing my daily routine so you might want to volunteer with me or find your own things to do because I won't be here to make your lunch every day."  (Or something rather frank like that.)  Dad got the message.  The world was not revolving around him.

So dad also turned to volunteering.  He is very giving and caring, and focuses on making other people's lives better.  One of his volunteer jobs over the years has been to help senior citizens pay their bills and balance their checkbooks (and make sure they aren't getting scammed). What is funny about that is most of the people he helps are younger than he is!

He'd do anything for anybody, you don’t have to be his little princess (sorry, I’m not giving out his phone number!)  And although he is a clean-freak, car-tire-and-motor-oil hoarder, my dad is exactly what I wanted in a dad—a man who is always there when I fall down, to help pick me back up.  And love me, no matter what.



4 comments:

  1. What a special tribute to Your Dad, Jill...You've made him proud once again. This has touched his heart....I'm sure...I would give "anything" to write about my father....wished I would have known who he was....I enjoyed reading this....:)))))

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    1. Thank you, Sandy. I'll see my parents Saturday so we will see what he thinks! I imagine your dad was a great guy and wish you'd have known him.

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  2. You got me all teary eyed, Jill! Your dad is indeed a wonderful man and I'm blessed to have him in my life too. I had been dating Matt barely 2 months when the banks were frozen in Panama due to the uprising political situation. I received a letter from the college stating that unless I paid the $5000 outstanding balance I would not be allowed to continue. Without knowing me nor saying a word, your dad wrote a check to the college and I was allowed to continue and eventually graduate.
    I also remember the first call from him after we returned from our honeymoon: he wanted to know my social security number because he was buying me a life insurance policy and Matt was the beneficiary. That totally freaked me out until later Matt explained that it was like a savings account for the loooooong run. Eventually I learned that he says "I love you" with oil changes and "I'm thinking of you" with newspaper clippings. Your dad is indeed a wonderful dad.

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    1. Oh Arlene, it's a good thing dad did that-look at all the people you've helped over the years because of your degree! You are paying it forward. :) I had to laugh about the life insurance, you probably thought they had it in for you!

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