My Dad turns 78 years old today and I’d like to dedicate today’s post to him. Those of you that know my Dad personally already know what an inspiration he has always been to those around him, his family, his friends, and his entire community.
Dad worked hard all of his life, never asking for more than his due, and often giving more than expected. A mechanic by trade, he opened his own garage with towing business when our family moved to our new farm home so that he could help on the farm, as well as run his business. Opening a new business, especially in the country, was a challenge, but Dad has never backed down from a challenge. His days have always started before sun up and ended long after the sun set, but I don’t remember him ever complaining about the long days, emergency calls in the middle of the night, nor difficult work. We lived in the snow belt just south of Buffalo then; his work was often done in snow and ice. I do recall quite a few times when he mentioned his hands or feet were terribly cold, but I don’t remember a single time that he did not complete the job at hand due to weather, working conditions, or any other hindrance. We couldn’t afford a big fancy garage with heat, so he used a space heater and dealt with it. Dad always managed with what he had available.
My daddy, he was somewhere between God and John Wayne. —-Hank Williams, Jr
Our cows were very adept at finding just the right time to break through fencing and give us all a bit of exercise. We’d bring them back and Dad and Mom would fix fence once again. When haying season came along, we all helped, but machinery repairs, teaching tractor skills, and the like all fell on Dad. Again, no complaints from him on having to do the work, though our equipment was old and needed much maintenance.
Our own equipment and cars were always in need; we couldn’t afford the shiny new models, but Dad maintained our older fleet in safe and reliable condition, all the while keeping up with the farm and his growing garage business. His customers usually became family friends; Dad is not only an excellent mechanic, he is also a kind and gentle man who helps anyone in need. He taught us to respect others, no matter what their place in life and to treat everyone fairly and respectfully.
When my brother recently decided to open his own towing business, my Dad was the person to go to for advice. Dad’s own experience, with a hefty dose of perception, has been a huge asset to my brother’s business.
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Respect is not something he demanded, so much as earned. His quiet tones and honest approach are still evidence today to me that you don’t need to fight and argue to make a point; you just need to be the best person you can be, a fair and honorable person, and those that matter will respond. Sure, some people took advantage of his generosity, and he didn’t let others just walk over him, but anyone that knows him has a forever friend they can count on implicitly.
He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland
He also taught me, by his example, that it’s not important that others notice your good deeds, just that they are truly good. Growing up can be hard, but it’s softened a great deal when you can always go talk to Dad. He was never too busy to talk about anything I felt the need to converse, from my crazy ideas to heartfelt concerns. Dad might be under a car with wrenches turning, but his ears were open. He once told me, when I was feeling sorry for myself, that “glory makes the soup thin” He was right, of course. I didn’t need others to notice what I had done right, I just needed to do the right thing. Sometimes no one at all notices and that’s ok.
I see a lot of my Dad’s influence in my own children, some more than others. His gentle tones, complete honesty, strong work ethic, and steadfastness are traits that will serve his grandchildren and their children well throughout their lives.
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. ~Umberto Eco
Dad is retired now, but not without purpose. He still serves as a sagacious mentor to his children and grandchildren. Even today, I seek my Dad’s wise counsel on life’s challenges; his wisdom never ceases to amaze me. Our family is so blessed to have him at the helm!