Dad Again

I'm surprised by how much my Dad is on my mind this month. Yeah, yeah, Father's Day, Hallmark cards, Facebook posts, tv commercials ... it's all part of June every year. It's usually the subject of only one post for me, not three.

My Dad and I had an up and down relationship between my teens and thirties, as I mentioned before, but today I'm immersed in positive thoughts about him and his influence on me; and I promised I'd return to positive posts. So this is one.

He was the ultimate problem-solver. He believe he could solve virtually any problem and fix nearly any broken thing if he could spend enough time studying it. He engaged in his hobbies with professional level skill. He was the family's TV repairman and nearly every cousin has a story about some TV "Uncle Benny" fixed. Most TVs in our house were repaired hand-me-downs until he was finally talked into buying a new one.

He was handy with carpentry. He built our house, for example. Literally by himself. Every nail, every electrical outlet, every faucet. The only help he had was with heavy things, like the lifting the framed walls. He paid roofers because he didn't know how to do that, then watched them work so he could learn. Two years after moving in, he built the detached garage, including the roof.

He was an engineer and draftsman by profession. Dad didn't have a college degree, however; he was partly self-taught and partly trade school educated. You could do it that way in the 1940s and 1950s.

He only had three jobs in the first thirty-five years of my life. Each job change was the result of the company owner retiring and selling or closing the business. In one case, Dad went with a new business started by the retiring owner's business partner. When that owner retired years later, several other companies offered Dad jobs; he had a great reputation in town. He held that last job for more than twenty years.

Plumbing was his engineering specialty in that last job. He worked, without name recognition, on projects ranging from drainage on an I-10 offramp to sprinkler systems and restrooms in a suburban shopping center to the fountain at the Italian Plaza in downtown New Orleans.

I could take about his stubbornness and often judgmental attitude but I'll let this sentence be the extent of that observation.

Dad was soft-spoken and usually more of an observer than a participant. Guess where I get that from!  He didn't say much but sometimes one sentence from him capped a conversation perfectly. Sometimes I'm like that.

Dad also had an infectious smile, which I didn't really realize till a few years after his death. I've been complimented on my smile too.

I'm told through family lore that Dad had quite a different personality as a child and young man. If I could have just one do-over in life, it would be to have a conversation with him about his youth.

OK, that’s all about Dad, for now.  I do miss him.