Well, I’ve been away from the website for a few days, but I’m back. The weekend was full of celebrating my sister graduating from 8th grade and my dad retiring from the job he has had for the last 32 years. In one of the cards he received, I saw written an interesting message that I can best paraphrase as saying “I hope the second act will be just as good.” That sentiment really struck me because as much as I think I know about my dad’s “first act” (the first 50 years of his life) I realize there is quite a bit that I do not know now and I may never get to know. Regardless of that, I want to take the time to share with you a little bit of what I do know about my dad and why he is somebody everybody could learn a thing or two from.
My dad is the third of six children in his family. He grew up in Chicago and lived with his family until he was 17. At that point, all but him, his older sister and his older brother moved to New York for his father’s job. Instead of leaving Bogan High School and finishing his senior year in another state, my dad chose to stay behind and work to help pay for the house he lived in with his siblings until he finished high school. Basically, he was addressing his first mortgage way before I will and taking care of himself right away, being relatively self-sufficient.
After he graduated, my dad started working for Cook County, the same place he worked until May 31 of this year. The specific work he did at the job changed over the years, but his demeanor did not. I learned recently though that his work ethic did. When he was first working, a man named Rich (a man who was destined to be one of my dad’s closest friends and partners at work and outside of it) would pick up his phone at 5:00 AM and call my dad’s house. He would then proceed to set the phone down on the side table, take a shower, get ready to leave and return to find the phone still ringing. Since then, my dad has improved exponentially, generally the first person to wake up in my house. Working was also where my father met my mother. I am honored to say I have the privilege of standing where it happened. They did what most people do: dated and eventually married in 1992. A few years later, I was born and my dad began the journey of learning how to be a parent. I can’t say I’m a perfect example of how amazing he is, but I can say that I am flattered when people tell me that I remind them of him. My sister was born six years after me, giving my dad another challenge. (Let me note that I’m not saying my dad was working alone. He had my mom, who he loves, with him the entire time and still has her today. But this post is about my dad for now.)
As a father, one of my dad’s catch phrases has been “you know where to find me.” It is such a powerful thing to say. It means “I know you know what you’re doing and can take care of yourself, but if you ever need anything at all, call me up.” My dad moves mountains for people. If a friend calls him in the middle of the night, he’s in the car and on the way. He cooks and cleans (again, with my mom and my sister and I) and still leaves time to enjoy himself. He taught me to fish and how to put gas in a car and a variety of other things that I couldn’t even begin to list in this post. He taught me how to be a good person and take care of people, all of them, no exceptions. He’s still working on teaching me to just let go sometimes.
My dad has dealt with hard times just like anybody else who has been on this earth long enough, especially in losing his father to cancer in 2007. Despite this, he never missed a beat at home with us. It was a struggle, and he is human, but he is selflessly human and never stops putting other people first.
As I said, my dad retired at the end of May. Since then, he has been home working on projects almost daily to try and fix our already nice house. At one point, he took the bench I was going to re-stain and repaint for my apartment and did it himself. I guess he needed a project and decided to do me the favor. Even without a job right now, he simply cannot stop working.
In attending my dad’s retirement party and last day of work, I found that he is irreplaceable to more than just my family. People I have never met have been approaching me, telling me stories about my dad from before I was born and when I was young. It is amazing, seeing these people credit him with keeping their jobs and with taking care of them and with loving my sister, my mom and me unconditionally. One thing all of these people seem to have in common is a knowledge that my dad loves me and loves to talk about me (and play my radio station in the office so people can hear me). The feeling is overwhelming.
I know a lot about my dad. From father-daughter dances to sitting in the garage listening to country music, I know that he is always somebody worth spending time with. He tells me about his plans for his next job, ranging from bus driver to rapper to business owner, and honestly, I believe he could do any of those things if he wanted to. This post isn’t nearly long enough to tell you who my dad is, but I hope it gives you a glimpse into his life and what a profound impact it has had on me and just about everybody else he’s ever come in contact with during his “Act I.”
Here’s to Act II, Dad.