My dad was far from perfect, but he tried, and I believe he always did his best. Doing less than best wouldn't have been acceptable for him. Some have measured him by some standard and found him lacking. I tried to measure him by his own standard, how he lived up to his own expectations. And I found fault with him on many occasions, mostly when I was a teenager with attitude, but also in later years.
No, he wasn't perfect. He was envious of other people and their successes that surpassed his own. He felt he was a misfit, the "black sheep" of his family, not quite measuring up to his siblings. And he hated that the life he was able to give my mom wasn't as good as he wanted it to be. But the thing is, he was the best that he could be, exactly what we each should strive for.
Dad and Mom with all their kids.
We certainly had our differences. Or our likenesses, perhaps. We butted heads a lot, both of us determined to be "right." My mother once told me that my dad and I were too much alike, strong-willed, hard-headed; one of us needed to give up the will to always win. She said she had tried for over 25 years to get him to change, but there was still hope for me. I did listen to her. I backed down a little, not admitting that I was wrong, of course, but allowing that there might be two views of what was right. It helped me to see the gentle, caring man that he was.
He's the one who bounced me on his foot, "ride 'em cowboy" style when I wore my red and white cowgirl outfit.
That's Dad holding me.
He was more relaxed than Mom about my childhood, a natural thing, I suppose. He was comfortable watching my antics on the pogo stick, the jumping shoes (springs on the bottom), the skating and biking. He encouraged me to do more while Mom gave him deadly looks.
He's the one who taught me how to change the oil and the tires of my car. He wanted me to never be stranded and have to rely on a stranger in the desert spaces where we lived.
When Mom gasped on learning about my drag racing my Volkswagen, Dad laughed and asked me if I won. I did against other VWs; bigger cars spotted me various distances and usually beat me. Dad was proud that I held my own with "the boys."
Dad with my cousin, Mom and my dad's baby sister.
He invited me to build a stereo with him. I don't remember what useful part I did, but I loved that he showed me how to use the soldering iron and to read the instructions (which he never did!).
He "hired" me to help him paint on a job one summer. I wasn't so crazy about the work, it was hot and I got dirty (duh!), but I loved that he trusted me to be part of it. And I've remembered many of the trick and tips he taught me.
He always told me "well done," in some manner. Sometimes I didn't "hear" it at the time, but I don't remember ever feeling like a failure in his eyes. Sometimes I know he was disappointed in my choices, but he never made me feel that I was a disappointment.
Dad, on the right with his brother.
He taught me to drive, beginning at age eleven. He took me for my driving test, realizing on the way there that I hadn't learned to parallel park. We had a quick lesson, and I passed it, all of it in flying colors. Soon after that he taught me to drive a stick shift. Never once did he express being frustrated with me, even on the 110th time I killed the engine in his nice new truck.
He made me "get back in the saddle" on many occasions. I learned that when something happens, you have to "slay the dragon" before moving on. Otherwise, the dragon keeps breathing fire down your neck for the rest of your journey.
He was my Daddy, and he was big in my eyes, right to the very end when his physical size had dwindled to being tiny in comparison to his robust height as a younger man.
I miss my dad.
This is for you, Daddy. I love you.
~~~If your dad is still around, enjoy it now.
Go see him or at least call him on Sunday.
Heck, call him more often than you have time for in your busy schedule.
You don't know how much you'll miss him.~~~