My Dad is retiring this weekend. I can’t imagine how he must be feeling. For over 42 years, he worked varying shifts and many weekends at a job he hated at General Motors doing masonry work/building repair. He spent many weekends he had off from the shop doing masonry work on the side to provide extra money for his wife and three children (I’m the middle child and definitely his favorite 😉).
He didn’t grow up with a lot. There was no indoor bathroom in his house until he was a senior in high school. He knew the meaning of hard work his whole life. He worked on his father’s and uncle’s farms. He didn’t have a carefree childhood like most of us have. Immediately after graduating High School he set to work learning how to do the masonry work from his cousin and worked doing that until he was hired by General Motors. I doubt it was his dream to work there for 42+ years but he did. (Btw, he’s a talented artist. He always drew cool cartoons of raccoons and other animals on the papersack book covers we had on our books for school.)
When I think back to my childhood, most of my memories are of my dad working or being tired from working (or cranky– from working and being tired. And no, I never could hold the flashlight right! 😂)
I was born in Flint, Michigan and lived there through the end of fifth grade. The neighborhood I grew up in was becoming unsafe, so my dad moved us away, adding two hours of driving to his work day.
In yesterday’s post, I was lamenting my giving nature, but I realized this morning–as I was continuing my epic baking journey to provide lots of delicious cookies for my dad’s retirement party–that I got it from him. Whether through nurture or nature or some combination of the two, I got it from him. Looking at those qualities in me, the way I look at them in him, I realize I should be grateful.
He works extremely hard yet will give the shirt off his back to anyone who needs it. He’s quick to lend a helping hand to anyone, even though he may be dog tired from a hard days work. I learned how to work hard for the things I want from him. I’m stubborn–just like him. I get joy from helping others, like him. I know that if I need anything, my dad will help me. And while I haven’t needed anything–financially–from him in a very long time, I’ve always had his encouragement and support. He always lets me know that he’s proud of me and that he believes in me. He taught me how to be persistent and work hard to provide for myself. When I joined the Air Force, I went to the Defense Language Institute to learn the Russian Language. It was tough, and there were many times I doubted myself and was reduced to tears, but I could call home and talk to my dad, and he would remind me that I can do anything if I work hard enough and keep trying. He was right. I passed with flying colors, surprising myself and some of my teachers (especially the one who called me stupid every day) with my final test scores.
When I decided I was going to try turning my passion for writing into novels and attempting to make a career out of it, he never doubted for a second that I could do it. When you have someone who believes in you like that, it’s easier not to let your self-doubt completely take over. I’m fortunate that I have many people in my life who believe in me.
He was never one of those fathers who expected any less from his daughters than he did from his son. I grew up believing that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I absolutely thought that I could be president one day if I so decided. I never needed to have a female president in order to believe that, I was only excited that I would get to be the first one. I didn’t need to look outside of my household to dream big or be shown that I was capable of doing anything. My mom and my dad were all the role models I needed. (My mom is really kick-ass, too, btw. I’ll write about her another day.)
So, to my dad with your large, callused hands and your replacement knee brought on by countless years of relentlessly hard work pounding his body, time to kick back, crack open a beer, and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it! I hope you get to travel now and see all those places you always talked about when we were growing up but never had the free time to go see.
You’re incredible! If the world were filled with more people like you, it would be a beautiful place.
Cheers! I love you.