My dad had an awesome belly laugh. He would stay up late to watch Carol Burnett and M*A*S*H and I would be in my room (at the very end of the hall), door closed, struggling to fall asleep (much like I do now!) and I could hear his laughter. I loved the sound of his laughter. Sometimes, if my mom had already gone to bed, he'd let me get back up and lay on the couch and watch with him. I can still hear him, how he would laugh when he'd get really tickled! He had a great sense of humor!
My dad kept my car clean for me. He would wash and maintain all the vehicles parked in our driveway regularly. When I would come home from college, he'd say, "you need to park that car long enough for me to check the oil." He was meticulous in caring for his vehicles...One of the things he had us do when he was in ICU on a ventilator was get the oil changed in mom's car...always taking care of us even when he was the one who needed to be cared for.
Dad bought us two go carts, a three wheeler, and a dirt bike...not all at the same time, but eventually, we had all of the above. He also carved out a couple of really cool trails through the woods so that we had a great place to ride! We spent hours and hours and no telling how many gallons of gasoline riding those things.
When we were building our house, dad came up every "long weekend" to help Wes out. He never asked for anything in return. In fact, there was no where else he'd rather be. He and I stayed up into the wee hours one night staining my kitchen cabinets. If my dad could be with his kids, it didn't matter to him what he was doing! In the end, when he struggled to breathe, he couldn't stand that he was unable to do the things he once could and would often push himself past his limits. He never let on to us that he was sick. He was too worried we couldn't handle it. So, he continued to do what he did, never letting on that he was suffering. I wish I'd have paid more attention.
I can only remember getting one spanking from my dad. When I was about four, I set his truck on fire! I was sitting inside of it trying to strike a match (at the time, my dad smoked). When I succeeded, it scared me! So, I threw the match into a paper sack and threw the sack back onto the seat of his truck. I got out, shut the door, and went inside to play quietly and discreetly in my room. It wasn't long before I heard...SHELLEE RENEE! Needless to say, I believe that might have been the one time he disciplined me out of anger! When I would tell that story later in life, he would joke..."it only took me one spanking to get my point across!"
My dad had a strict "no boys hitting girls" policy. It really gave me the advantage when I was fighting with my brothers!
I ruined three vehicles (all of which my dad paid for) in about a six week time span. Each time I'd call, dreading telling him what had happened, he'd ALWAYS respond, "well, did anyone get hurt?" When I would say no, he'd say, "well, then that's all that matters. I can replace a vehicle, but I can't replace you."
My dad would often print out ten or more pages of jokes and riddles he'd been sent through email. When I'd come home for a visit, he'd sit and watch me read them. He couldn't wait until I got to the really good ones...he'd laugh just thinking about it! Then, when I was finished reading them, he'd go back through the whole stack and re-read his favorites...out loud!
My dad demanded that we respect my mother. I could be a disrespectful little snot, but I would never do it if my dad was around. He wouldn't even let us take his side when she was being hard on him...he would be complaining about something she had done; but, if we joined in, he would quickly take up for her. I never really understood his complete love for her...she rarely had a positive thing to say about him...but, he loved her. And, I respected him for that.
My dad was never disappointed in me because of the way my mistake would affect him. He was always disappointed FOR me. He was more concerned about the way my mistakes would affect me. He hated to see me have to learn things the hard way. But, stubborn me, that's the way I learned just about everything. And, he was always there to help me clean up the mess. Almost always, without a lecture. Just quietly and gently disappointed for me.
One of the first times I remember seeing my dad cry was when his father died. The image is burned into my memory so that remembering is like seeing it again for the first time. I walked into the kitchen and found him sitting at the table, his faced buried in his hands, weeping. He was holding my PawPaw's watch.
My dad wept often toward the end. The thought of leaving us behind...of worrying that we would be okay...was too much for him. I think that's why God allowed him to slip into a coma before he took him home. I can remember the very last time I looked into his eyes. He blinked really hard. He was saying "I love you." And, he was saying "goodbye."
I know that my dad was not a perfect man. But, it's funny how losing someone erases everything but the stuff you loved. He had a temper, but it was really hard to make him mad. I think perhaps he was a little harder on the boys. But, I really can't remember him ever being angry with me and Charlyn. I would always sign his cards, "love, your favorite daughter." But, I knew we were all his favorites. He loved each of us unconditionally and would have given his life for us at any point where it became necessary.
And so, Father's Day without my father sucks. In fact, any day without my father sucks. Ironically, I taught a lesson on sadness today. It took everything I had to get through it. God's word says in Psalm 34:17, "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
Today, my spirit is crushed. And, I cry out for help. Or, at least I cry. I miss my dad.