Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Dad

I'm not sure what to say about my Dad. All I know is that I can't stop thinking about him today.

As a young man he served in the Army and was posted as a helicopter gunman in Vietnam. He was discharged several weeks early because his own mother was in the hospital losing her life. When he returned home, he married my mother whom he dated for several years. They had my brother Marty 10 months after they were married. I came along over 3 years later.

Even though he worked away from home, driving truck, I still have tons of memories of him. We spent weekends getting his fishing gear ready for a big outing. I held the flashlight while he maintained our cars. I watched while he split firewood for the winter.

Every Sunday he would take me to Grandma's house so I could attend church with her. Of course, he'd stop at Big Foot donuts beforehand. He loved to shop at Bi-mart. We went almost daily. He'd always park in the side parking lot and walk farther. I once asked him why. He said that his odds were better to not get in an accident in that area. Hardly anyone parked way over there. I remember him paying me $.25 if he said "stomp that bug" and I would take off my shoe and do it barefoot. He also paid me a $.25 to say "10/4 good buddy" ................funny only to us, since he was a truck driver and that's my birthday!

Dad was always taking pictures of Marty & me. Mostly in front of the dancing room mirrors or in front of the big tree in the front yard. I really treasure those pics now and need to start taking more of my own beauties. I remember taking a bath and drying off in front of a raging fire he'd build in the woodstove. Mom would braid my hair and as a special treat Dad would let me get one of his white undershirts to wear as a nightie.

Once I was asleep in my bed at around midnight. Mom and Dad were up watching movies. I remember hearing my door open and saw the two of them peaking through the crack. They giggled when I asked what was wrong. "Nothing, we just wanted you to get up with us and watch a movie and eat popcorn." That was fun to have a secret date w/ out Marty. I don't think I've ever told him about that.

I remember Dad teaching the neighborhood kids how to cast a fishing pole off of the corner park's play structure. He also strung a rope from two trees on opposite sides of our driveway and taught the neighborhood kids how to do the Army crawl. They used to use it to get across swamp land in Vietnam.

He went back to school when I was 11, to be an electrician. Those were a few hard years for them, but we didn't really notice. He used his new skills to help me with a science project, a mouse electric chair........Mr. Settlemeyer didn't seem to appreciate our efforts.

Christmas time was never his favorite. But it was my Mom's. She's buy massive amounts of gifts and bake tons of goodies. We'd have Grandma over and have a great time. Talking to him now, I think he disliked it because growing up Christmas wasn't a big production like it was with my Mom. They'd have a nice meal, but no extravagent gifts. I guess that's what happens when you have 10 kids!

There are countless more that I could tell, but the point is Dad is a wonderful man. He served his country, and his family well. He now has diabetes and a heart condition, both are effects from his exposure to chemicals in Vietnam. Today he is undergoing another angiogram (I think this is #4 this year) and he sounds a little scared. He called and ended with "I love you kid"...........but no goodbye. I'm crying, but I know the tears are selfish. If something happens, he's going to a better place. My family is left behind with only these memories.....and thousands more. I LOVE YOU DAD!

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