A tribute to my father
My childhood dog Babe.
My 100th Hub, I dedicate to my Dad.
By the time I finish typing this tribute, my father will be hurting, and in the care of Hospice. He has pancreatic cancer which is a most painful disease. While I actually started this Hub over two months ago, I haven't been able to get through it. It's so painful to me to watch a man waste away to nothing that has been the biggest influence in my life.
I've been fortunate enough not to have lost many loved ones in my lifetime. A few family members passed away before I ever met them. My great-grandparents passed away from natural old age. My grandmother lost a battle to lung disease in her 80s. A cousin died young at an early age.
To anyone wandering by this tribute that does not know me, my grandparents raised me as one of their own. My grandmother was more like a mother to me. My grandfather is the only father I've known.
My father, my hero.
Over the past year, between my hospitalizations and illnesses, my father was there for my family.
I call him Huffy.
I always lived with my grandparents because my mother was very young when she had me. Never knowing my biological father, I just naturally adored my grandfather and always felt he was my true father.
When I was about three or four years old, I have memories of my grandfather telling me the story of the Three Little Pigs! He never read from a book. Always reciting the story word for word from memory. I got such joy and delight from the time he spent reading to me, that eventually I started calling him Huffy because of the big bad wolf and how it huffed and puffed.
In a cruel twist of fate, my father has factory lung from working in a foundry casting airplane parts most of his life after giving up farming. Cancer has taken most of his breath.
Lessons learned from my father.
My father taught me never believe I'm smarter than someone else. He raised me to understand that we have something to learn from others.
Because of his teachings on the farm when I was a child, I learned to have a passion for animals and other people.
He could have by all rights been a political figure in town. Everyone loved and adored him. He couldn't travel anywhere without someone recognizing him. I met a lot of people during my childhood.
We lived in a small town, so most people around here knew of us.
My father was from a large family and had a large family of his own. Many people to this day still know of our family, even though there is a high rate of people that come and go. This is also a military town.
My father took me to church when I was younger. He thought having routine and structure was important to raising a family.
He taught me important lessons in life when everyone else seemed to forget I was born.
He had a strict routine. Daily, he would wake at 4 a.m, even after he no longer operated a home farm. He would get himself ready, take out the garbage, feed the dog, and drive down to get the paper. He would never let a day go by without waking me up so I wouldn't be late for school.
My father's faith!
My father would rake the yard every fall. Carefully piling up leaves. He always liked the way a yard would look after it was freshly raked. When someone would say to him that he lived in the woods and wonder why it was necessary to rake so hard, my father would reply, "you have to scratch mother earth's back to reap reward."
My father believed no two wrongs make a right. He also believed that we are accountable for everything we do on earth.
He started taking me to church after my second adoption, when I was seven years old. He may have taken me prior to that, but I don't recall.
I remember being so frightened in church. I would always sit by him upstairs with the other adults instead of going to the Sunday school classes.
He never read the Bible that I know of, but he could recite versus from it that he had memorized.
When I was hospitalized in December 2012, paralyzed on my right side for eight days, my father sat by my side. He came to visit me out of the love of his heart for me. He was awfully worried about me, only as a father could be.
There was a patient in the same room. The hospital has shared rooms still. The patient's name was Jane. One day Jane was having an awful tantrum. She wasn't herself. Perhaps it was the medication she was given for the infection on her leg. She was carrying on and on, belitting hospital staff, and then asked me how I could remain so calm being paralyzed. She said it would have driven her mad with no control to get better.
Jane was mad. She felt plagued by the unfairness of her medical problems. She was in and out of the hospital four times during my stay. She wanted instant gratification. She was seeking medical advice that would cure her congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis that prevented her from living the retired life she always dreamed of.
One day, she turned to me, and asked how I could be so calm laying in a hospital bed without being able to be home with my children. She said it would have destroyed her to be in my shoes.
Jane thought I needed prayer. She sent a clergy to visit me. As I'm laying in my bed, unable to move because my headache was more than I could stand even on the pain pills they were feeding me, this nice lady from the Chaplain office asked if I needed her to pray for me.
I replied, "why did you come here?" "Who requested you?" Knowing I had not requested a clergy member.
She replied, "Jane requested my presence so that we could offer you prayer."
And I said, "I have made you, I will carry you, I will sustain you, and I will rescue you". Isaiah 46:4
I suddenly had the attention of the clergy member and Jane who took her cane and hobbled over to one side of my bed with a chair. Jane said, "well, I was raised Christian but I can't recite Bible versus like that."
I said, "I never could either, until I needed to remember one to get through this!"
So you see, maybe I wasn't paying all that much attention way back in my younger years when I attended church with my father. But somehow, I remembered what my father taught me.
My father's life.
My father was one of six children who lived with his parents on a farm. He was a potato farmer. He dropped out of school at a young age. He really wanted to be free and work outdoors. At sixteen he started driving potatoes from Connecticut to Rhode Island.
He also has served as Fire Marshall in our town.
Everything I've been taught, he showed me how to learn.
My father's mother was originally from England. She grew gladiolas and attended to her other children.
His father operated one of the first gas stations in town and sold the freshly-cut gladiolas at the corner store.
At age 16, my father met his wife, my grandmother.
One of the funniest stories he ever told was how he met her.
My grandmother was from West Virginia.
My grandfather was on his bicycle running chores for his mother when he saw this beautiful brunette standing on the corner, her hair wavy and glistening in the sunlight. He drove by a few times before he braved the courage to ask her what she was doing.
My grandmother replied in her southern accent (with a long drawl to her words), "I'm just wait'n on the bus".
My grandfather replied, "how can you be waiting on the bus when you are standing on the street corner?"
Love at first sight blossomed, seven children later, and the story goes on from there.
Life as a farmer's daughter.
My grandmother used to tell me, "Home is where your heart is."
She always tried to protect me from feeling hurt, when in reality they gave me all a child could ever ask for. I didn't know any other way of living so there was nothing I felt I was missing.
My father worked a full-time job. In the summer, when the leaf of the tall oak tree grew to the size of a mouse's ear, he'd plant the corn. Then, he showed me year after year, how to mound squash seeds, where the best spots were to raise cucumbers, how to know when to pick a head of cabbage, and how to look out for horned tomato worms.
At four years old, he taught me to feed baby lambs, while I held them in my lap.
He bought me my first puppy when I was seven.
He taught me everything I know today, but he never knew I was watching and listening!
My father was a horse trainer.
My father trained horses. He taught them how to do tricks and roll over.
When my son was referred to horse therapy for Autism-related sensory issues, my father stepped up and volunteered to work with my son. He bought him a safety harness and gear. He never got the chance to work with my son though, because at the beginning of the summer we had a terrible wave of heat. My father's health went downhill after that.
My father training his pet horse to do tricks.
Family always came first for my father.
Before landing a good job, for years he worked multiple jobs just to make all the bills.
Several of his sons served in Vietnam.
And when my grandmother became too ill to care for herself, he cared for her.
I've always thought it was important to tell my father how I feel about him. One Christmas, I wrote him a letter.
"You are always there when we need a helping hand. You have yet to turn us away, tell us you are too busy, or can't be bothered.
You have helped us more than we can possibly express gratitude for in words.
I want to tell you how much you mean to me.
I think you are a pillar of strength.
You are a windmill. Strong and sturdy, yet you do cartwheels to get where you need to go when someone needs you.
You are a lighthouse. You guide us through murky waters and lead us to shore to return home safely.
You are a flashlight. Your batteries never run out and you always light the right path in the fork in the road.
You are my hero.
There have been times in my life when I didn't think I could go on any more. And you hugged me with your great big strong arms. I felt God's love through your heart. And because of you, I felt stronger and was able to stand on my feet once again.
You have always been there for me and you amaze me with all you do even today in your retirement years when you should be resting.
I can't thank you enough for all you do.
I love you so much.
We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for you and I'm so proud to call you dad.
Do you have a parent that adopted you?
My Father's Favorite song.
What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong.
"I see trees of green, red roses too. I see em bloom, for me and for you.
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world."
Well, thank you for reading this. It was a very painful story to write. I know we are not supposed to right about things that are too personal, but this one I couldn't let go of without letting everyone know where I came from.