My Dad and Me

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I don’t have many photos of me with my dad as many had gotten lost over the years and I have lived in the UK for over 20 years and don’t visit the USA much these days.

The larger photo is me with my dad at our first house in NJ.  I still remember the address and the layout although I don’t remember this photo being taken.  I was probably about one and my dad was about 22 yrs old.  How young is that to be a dad!  People got married young in those days.

The photo of me with my dad with the black car is my favourite, and one of his also.  I was about 2 yrs old.  The car was a black Chevy convertible with red leather interior.  I remember that car.  My dad used to sit me in his lap when he was driving and let me ‘steer’.  Sometimes I did it standing up.  Hey!  People did things like that in those days!  There were no seatbelt laws.  Anyway, the house in the photo was my grandparent’s and it was right behind the house in the larger picture.  That is my great-grandmother in the background.  I vaguely remember her.

The other photo was taken just before my dad took me out for an epic ride on his motorcycle.  I was in my 30’s (that is all I’m saying) in my fit and skinny days!  I also used to live in the house next to the house in the background.  It belonged to my stepmother’s mother and I lived with her for about a year.  The house in the photo belonged to very nice neighbours with boys.  They were too young for me. 🙂  By the way, all three houses are in the same town!

My dad’s motorcycle riding days are over now since he totalled his last bike in an accident that he saw coming a few years ago.  He is 73 now.  Yeah, my dad is cool!

My dad worked his butt off over the years just to keep a roof over the head of his family and put food on the table.  He worked at a butcher’s, as a mechanic in a garage when they used to be attached to the Petrol station, he drove trucks across the country, he worked in a riding stable, just to name a few things.  Sometimes he would have several jobs on the go.  He also went to night school to learn how to be a draughtsman and design and read blueprints.  He became a carpenter, builder and finally project manager for major building projects.  He has built bridges, hospitals, schools and houses.  He is a very handy guy.

My dad is also a very talented artist, so maybe something got passed along that I didn’t realise until now.  My dad has always been an active person, which I why I think he has retained a youthful (some would say immature) attitude to most things.  He sent me a farting card for my birthday, for example.

My dad has always enjoyed sports and would always be happy to play games with us and teach us things.  I grew up to be a bit of a tomboy.  My dad taught me how to play football (American), baseball, play tennis, to ski, to fish, and ride a bike.  We also used to go bowling a lot as there was a bowling alley near where we lived.

Being the eldest and only girl had its advantages and disadvantages.  I did get to have my own room ultimately!  However, I had to be responsible for my younger siblings.  I was Daddy’s girl though and he used to take me everywhere when I was small.  He put me on a horse when I was 2 and I would sit in front of him holding onto the pummel on the saddle while the horse would be galloping at full speed!  I loved it!

I think of my dad as Action Man.  Always busy and working, there was no time for idleness, but he would still have time for his family.  One of my favourite memories I have of my dad is when he used to come home from work, he would go and have a shower and get cleaned up for dinner.  I remember sitting on top of the loo (with the seat down of course!), my dad with a towel wrapped around him and having a shave (with a double-edged razor!), while I told him about my day at school.  My dad always took care of himself and made sure he had clean hand and nails, nice clean clothes and shaved every day.  Construction work is dirty work, but my dad always made an effort at the end of  his working day.  I think my mother appreciated it too.

My dad was and still is quite involved with church matters and also has hobbies.  Retirement doesn’t seem to have slowed him down too much.  Well, maybe just a little, but now he really has more time to do things he wants to do.

My dad has had many challenges in his life that he has had to overcome.  I have learned so much about him this last year while I was researching the family tree and helping my daughter compile information for her dissertation.  As an immigrant, he had to learn a new language.  He immersed himself in the American way of life.  My mother’s mental health issues created other challenges, and that eventually took its toll on him and they had to separate.  Fortunately my dad met someone who he could have a happy life with.  Initially there were challenges for all of us, but my step-mother eventually became one of my best friends.  I don’t know what I would do without her.  At least I know she is there for my father while I am far away here in the UK.

I may not see much of my dad these days, but we do talk on the telephone.  If only I could get him to use the computer and get on Skype!

I consider my dad to be one of my heroes (I don’t have that many) and in spite of some of his quirks and irritations –  we all have them, I would consider myself lucky to be involved with someone with half his attributes.

So here’s to you Dad, Happy Father’s Day!  Wish I could be there! xx

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2 responses

  1. Dear Arlene,
    What a beautiful gift and tribute you gave your father via this article. As you have a great father, he in return has a great daughter.