— Thanks to all those who contributed to today's Special Edition
FATHERS WITH A DIFFERENCE
By Joseph Walker
It isn’t that John was rude when we met. He was cordial, in a formal, Castilian way. He extended his hand, smiled politely and said something in Spanish that – I’m just guessing here – could roughly be translated as: “So you’re the goofy Gringo who wants to marry my daughter.”
I just smiled back at him. Goofily.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I only speak a pequito of Spanish.”
To his credit, John didn’t cringe at my feeble attempt at his native language, which probably hurt his ears. His formally pleasant expression didn’t even change.
“I’ll try not to hold that against you,” he said.
Anita then whisked me off to meet her brothers while her mother directed John’s attention to some task with which she needed help in the kitchen. Now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything, but one would think that my sweetheart and her mother were intentionally trying to limit the amount of time John and I spent together – at least at first.
And in retrospect, that was probably a good idea. Not that John and I would have come to blows or anything. It’s just that we were so different from each other; it was probably best that we get acquainted in small doses.
For example, John is a fixer. Whether it’s a lawnmower, a car engine, a basement wall or a kitchen appliance, he can fix it. He has the tools, the talent, the background and the experience to make old things new and new things . . . well . . . better than new.
I, on the other hand, am a breaker. I use things and break them – not intentionally, of course, and not always to the point of replacement. But enough that you notice. Nothing works exactly the way it’s supposed to at our house. The dishwasher door is off kilter. The light in the refrigerator works sometimes. The piano is off key. The TV is fuzzy. The stereo won’t play tapes. There’s a crease in the van’s front fender that is older than any of our grandchildren.
We all have our special gifts and abilities, and breaking things is mine.
During the early years of our relationship John tried to pass some of his fix-up skills on to me as he had with all his sons. One day, for example, he took me out on his driveway to teach me how to change the oil in my car. In those days I was driving a car that leaked oil so badly it never stayed in the car long enough to get dirty, so the concept of oil changing was new to me.
Fortunately, he understood that I was mechanically challenged, so he spoke slowly and used small words. He explained that there was a plug underneath the car that we were going to unscrew, and that would allow the dirty oil to drain out so we could replace it with fresh, clean oil. He even got down and showed me where the plug was. Then he handed me a plastic basin and told me to watch my head while I was under the car draining the oil.
I thought it was very considerate of him to give me that basin to cover my head while I was down there. It wasn’t until he started yelling about the dirty oil that was gushing all over his driveway that it occurred to me that he probably had another use in mind for the basin.
John and I had a lot of time to bond while we cleaned up the oily mess. He gave me some advice about choosing a good mechanic who could help with things like oil changes. And he instructed me on cars I could buy – cars that wouldn’t require a lot of maintenance.
Eventually we figured out that we could be different from each other and still have a good relationship. The thing that we have in common – our love for his daughter and his grandchildren – binds us to one another in ways that are unique to fathers and sons-in-law. The way I see it, blood may be thicker than water, but oil is thicker than blood.
Or am I just being goofy again?
Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.
By Barbara J. Ervin-Weymouth
I hope they celebrate Father's Day in Heaven Cause if there ever was a special Daddy, it was you!
I remember not being able to wait for you to come home from work. Sometimes you were gone before I awoke and returned after I was asleep in my bed.
I remember crawling out of bed when I heard your voice, running and jumping into your arms, and smelling the fresh scent of pine. You always had that big old grin, when I would say, “I missed you, Daddy.”
Then you would give me a big old squeeze and sit down and hold me on your knee. You would bounce me a couple times and ask me, how was your day. Then you would hold me tight against your chest and say, “I missed you too honey.”
During all my growing years I never had any fears, for I knew you would always be there for Momma and Me.
You were my tower of strength; you were the invincible one! Whenever I was in need, you were always there for me!
And as I grew into womanhood, you were there still. When I gave birth to my son, you were there to drive me to the hospital, you lovingly kissed me on the cheek and said, “Honey, I can't help you with this one”, but you did more than you will ever know. And when my husband left us without even a goodbye, you became Grandpa and Daddy to my son, “Your Little Bud.”
You couldn’t have been prouder! You were his father figure, mentor and friend. I will be forever grateful to you, for you filled in the gap, the one his father left. God saw that he had a daddy after all, a fine male role model to call, his Grandpa.
As you grew older and your health began to fail, you still wanted to know that, you Bud was okay. It hurt us to see your once strong body growing frail. Ravaged by the thief called, “Parkinson’s Disease”. God called you home from your suffering when Bud was only fifteen, and then he called Momma eight months after losing you.
It was a very dark time in my life, saying good-bye to both my towers of strength, my hero and my heroine; my two best friends. I thought my life would surely end!
God must have given me the strength of steel, for with out Him I could not of healed and dealt with such loss. My family foundation had crumbled under my feet. But the Lord sought not to allow defeat!
For I went ahead and pursued a career, providing for my son, taking care of our old family home even improving upon it. I raised my son to grow into a fine example of a man. Daddy, if you’re looking down, you can see that he has grown to be the father; you would have hoped he would be.
So, if they’re celebrating Father's Day in Heaven, I hope there’s something extra special there for you, for my exceptional Father and friend. I love you and miss you and till we meet again, keep a song in your heart and a smile on your lips. Happy Father's Day!
— © Copyright
Barbara J. Ervin-Weymouth,
Things turned out a little differently for us than I hoped when we first met. Your temper and my “individuality” didn’t always agree. In fact, we out right clashed more than once and both of us hurt for a long time. But we’ve come to respect one another and see each other for the individual people we are. For that I am grateful!
You taught me many of the things I didn’t want to be like. But you also taught me many things I admire and hope to emulate in my own life.
You were never afraid to try to fix something. It didn’t matter if you’d never seen a radio or computer or car before. It was just parts and if you could take the parts apart, you could put them back together. Including the “extra” pieces that always seem to come with things! J
You ignited my joy and passion for music. I truly love Elvis and the Beach Boys to this day. Thanks for taking me to see Simon and Garfunkel for my first concert. It is still one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.
I also appreciate the way you made up your mind to do something and then just did it. You didn’t fuss and fret and worry about what might happen, you just jumped in and made it happen. A little more research might have been helpful sometimes but you made things work anyway. J
I love your sense of humor and your one line “Huh!” laugh. Telling jokes around the dinner table is still one of my favorite childhood memories.
Even though it felt like you went overboard on the discipline sometimes, I’m glad you were strict when it came to things like cleaning up in the kitchen, not allowing “stuff” on the eating table, keeping our rooms clean and brushing our hair before coming to the breakfast table. These things taught me to respect myself and what I have. Even though they seemed a little silly at the time, I’m grateful to incorporate them into my life now.
I’m also grateful for the pride you take in your work. Without any formal training, you’ve managed to create some of the most beautiful woodwork I’ve ever seen. (You wouldn’t believe how many offers I’ve had to buy the swing you made for us!) You showed me that doing a good job was important and that even if you’d never done it before, you could buy a book, talk to people and figure out how to make it right and make it good… Even the first time around!
Unfortunately, you had to give up a lot of your dreams. To this day, I know you would have made a great artist had your portfolio not been stolen while applying for that college. But you can still make an art out of life.
the courage you’ve found to do things that scared you and maybe intimidated you
a little… like sailing a boat on the
I never was fond of your temper but it did teach me to stand up for myself. And for that I am grateful! I’ve had to learn how to NOT get bullied and that’s a very important life lesson. It’s come in handy many times over, especially in the work place. Despite all the times we hurt each other, I’m grateful you are my Dad. (I’m also grateful those hurtful times are a thing of the past!) I love you…
Thanks for being you, Dad!
— © JMP
By Kathleene S. Baker
I had fussed and worried as I shopped for Father’s Day last year. There isn’t much a man 86 years of age needs, or wants - at least not this man. I knew the assortment of movies would be appreciated, but at the last minute I had thrown in a jigsaw puzzle.
Once the package was in the mail, I began wondering if the puzzle was a good idea. That is, until Dad received it. He was so thrilled! Whew - I was relieved and almost shocked, since he would be putting it together alone. My only concern now was that he might get discouraged and box it up, if it proved too difficult. I hoped the scene would inspire him, since he’d always been an outdoorsman. It was a cabin in the mountains with a lake down below. Maybe he could mentally transport himself there, and relive old memories of fishing and hunting trips.
The first few times we spoke after he began the puzzle, I was convinced I should have never sent such a large one. He knew he had all the border pieces out, but the border still wouldn’t go together. I kept trying to encourage him, saying, “It only takes one piece that looks like it fits, but it really doesn’t. Then the border just isn’t going to go together. Keep double-checking! You will probably find only one piece that’s out of place, and then you will be off and running.”
Each time he would come back with, “I know there is one border piece missing from that box!” Darn, I was getting worried.
We speak several times a week, so I continued to get updates. The border problem continued, until I was afraid to even ask about the blasted puzzle. I didn’t want to hear he had thrown a fit and tossed it out with the trash.
Several visits later I bravely asked, “Dad, are you still fighting the border on that puzzle?”
He replied, “Oh, heavens no! Right now I’m working on the three trees on the right side. And, I finally got the chimney attached to the roof. It’s been hanging in thin air for days. But, you know that road leading up to the cabin - I’m still missing parts of it.”
I pretended to remember the three trees and the road exactly, and I was smiling. At last, I was beginning to feel much better. The tone of his voice spoke volumes. He was thoroughly enjoying his puzzle.
Later in our conversation he said, “I sat down to work on the puzzle a few minutes this afternoon, and when I looked at the clock again, it was three hours later!” Things were going well at last, and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The next time we spoke, I again asked how the puzzle was coming along. With a pretty “spirited” tone in his voice he said, “Oh, that. Well it’s been done for a week!” I nearly dropped the phone. The border had taken him several weeks, and now the entire 750-piece puzzle was finished. I managed to keep the phone in my hand, but it took everything in me not to laugh. I had never heard that tone in his voice. It reminded me of a little kid that was terribly confident of his skills, and wanted the world to know it!
Again, he wanted to know what is used to glue puzzles together. I had already told him several times I would take care of that. I wasn’t about to try explaining “Mod Podge” long distance, on a cell phone. He’d think I was speaking a foreign language. I’d also have to wait until he got pen and paper, and then I would need to spell it for him. He doesn’t hear especially well on the phone, so trying to explain something unfamiliar isn’t easy at all. I simply told him to be patient, and I’d take care of it on our next visit, as well as framing it.
When we chatted a few days later, he mentioned he had decided exactly where to hang the puzzle once it was framed. I assumed that was a hint that we needed to come visit soon, so I could help complete his project. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when he then announced proudly, “I have three coats of glue on the front, and two coats on the back.”
Shocked, I asked, “Dad, how did you know what to buy? Are you sure you used the right thing?”
With a rather “haughty” tone in his voice he replied, “Yes, I used the right stuff! I bought it at Wal-Mart - I’m not helpless, you know.”
I could just picture him roaming around Wal-Mart trying to find the proper glue, so I had to inquire, “Did you ask a clerk to help you?”
His reply was short, “Well, no! I just went to the Arts and Crafts Department and found it! All you have to do is read the labels.”
There is no doubt in my mind; it was his first visit to that department. He then told me he was ready to apply the finish coat.
“The finish coat? I’ve never heard of such a thing,” I screeched. It humiliated me that he knew more about it than I did!
I was then informed, “Oh yes, you have to use a finish coat. The back of the glue bottle says it might get tacky in humid weather if you don’t!”
Obviously he didn’t need me to help with the gluing procedure. It was already a done deal. But, I did assure him I would frame it on our next visit, and we’d get it hung. I’m beginning to wonder if he needs, or even wants my help?
It’s nearly time to call and chat with Dad again, and I think I’m prepared to hear almost anything. After all the hours involved so far, I doubt he’ll even buy a frame. More than likely, he’ll just get out his miter box and make one for this masterpiece. After all, he can build anything. He built the home I grew up in; he was just a tad bit younger then. Why not go into the framing business at 86? There’s a first time for everything, and as he previously explained, “I’m not helpless, you know!”
I can hardly wait to see Dad’s “jigsaw puzzle” completed, framed, and hanging with pride. It’s almost comical though, because the movies have yet to be mentioned. They weren’t even discussed when the gifts arrived for Father’s Day. The next time I mail a gift, I’m asking for a tracking number. Evidently, those movies somehow fell out of the package at the post office!
© 2004 Kathleene S. Baker
My name is Teri Wilber... I am curator for HeartsWithSoul http://heartswithsoul.com/. I would like to share a story I wrote about my father.
By Teri Wilber
My father softened, when did this happen? Why did this happen? Was it my Dad who softened, or was it I? In the scheme of life, does it matter, who when or why? The important element is that it has happened. My father and I have found one another. It is perhaps the greatest joy since “birthin’ my babies.”
From the time I was a child, I always hoped that my father would notice me, to give me credit for being me. He shudders when I tell him, "Dad, we're so much alike".... yet we are. I have his strength, his character and his game face! Often times we appear to be tough cookies simply because we must keep up a front for those we Love, as well as for ourselves. If we crumble, what will happen to them? So we walk through life believing we are in control of our emotions; believing that one way or the other we will make everything work out for those we Love.
It isn’t easy coming home at
any age, no less, after a failed marriage, failed business; children who were sorely
disappointed that their parents were no longer together. What choice did I have, other than to live on
the streets of
What choice did my parents have? After all of their years of hard work and effort raising and supporting children to have their child come home as a failure. This must have been very difficult for them. How would they explain me to their friends? The stock market was falling, their retirement money was at jeopardy and their daughter was home, with nothing.
Life was on edge for the first couple of months I was home. We were all walking on eggshells. The three of us were doing the best we could to make the most of a difficult situation. Days were spent seeking employment; evenings were spent working on Hearts With Soul.
As I see it, our first
momentous moment was in March after Mom and Dad returned from a ski trip in
One month later I left for a
road trip to
I walked out of my office into the hallway to be greeted by my father’s open arms.
“Welcome home, we missed you.”
My Dad and I stood in a warm
and Loving embrace.
My father missed me, and was open to the opportunity to tell me so. My father held me in his strong and Loving arms; he was happy that I was home. Later that evening he strongly suggested that
I look into the schools in
Three months after I began working I had come to the decision I could no longer continue with Hearts With Soul and hold a full time position. My work ethics, learned from my father, had me giving more time to my job than was expected. Along with Hearts With Soul it was simply too much!
One Thursday morning before my mother was up I walked into the computer room to speak to my father. Taking a deep breath, generating the courage I needed to say this without crying, I approached the computer room door.
"Dad, I am giving up Hearts With Soul. I can't do both."
With Love in his warm, blue eyes my father wrapped his strong arms around me. “Teri, I am so proud of you. You’ve made a difference for many people and you’ve given more than most could have or would have given.”
My father looked me in the eyes and pulled me back into him, “I am too old to cry sweetie.”
He knew giving up my dream was a difficult decision for me. I believe my choice hurt my father as much, and perhaps more, than it hurt me. Yet, we both gained a new element to our relationship, a new level of Love, trust and understanding.
There are many special moments that Dad and I have shared over the past year and a half, one just as special and unique as the other. Slowly, cautiously Dad and I have come to know each other. Dad and I have certainly gained a new appreciate and Love for each other. We’ve had many tender moments trying as best we could to bridge a gap that I believe we have both yearned to close.
Thank you for Loving me Dad…. I Love you so very much!
— © Teri Wilber
I live in
Life is like a dance, feeling and moving to the music. Each experience creates another movement. It is our own perception that makes life worth dancing another dance; just as it makes Loving worth one more chance. I believe that is why we are here... to share our Love, and to enhance the lives of others
* * *
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