A few days less than a year ago, I lost my father. He was 89 years old. As a little girl, every morning as he left for work, he would kiss me and tell me to do my best at school.
Later, I would come to understand how hard he worked at the steel mill as an industrial mason. Later I would understand why he worked so hard.
His school years were marked by the Great Depression.
His school pictures are adorable, but it is easy to tell when things got really difficult for his family.
As a little girl, I asked him why he worked so hard. He told me that he worked hard to make sure that we always had "nice clothes to wear, shoes that fit, and a warm coat for winter." Later on, I would come to understand that those were things he rarely had as a child. He told me not to worry about it because "nobody had those things."
He and his brother caught wild burros and built their own carts from scavenged materials. They would race each other and anyone else brave enough. They used the carts to haul manure from the corrals and chicken coops they would clean out before and after school. They would "charge people for hauling away their #*^!, and then charge people for bringing back their own dried out #*^! as fertilizer in the spring (insert my mother rolling her eyes:)." He thought that was so funny. His income from this little enterprise fed his family for several years, but his school attendance suffered. He barely made it through 8th grade. I see a little of my daddy in my students who struggle.
|Daddy on the left - bad boy in the leather jacket.|
Like so many others of his generation, he fought in WWII. He could have sat it out. As a little boy, he had broken his elbow. There was no doctor and his mother set it the best she could, but it never healed properly. He could not straighten his left arm. He fought to get into the Army, and then fought to get into gunnery school, so he could fight as a ball turret gunner on a B-24. The only stories we heard as children were funny ones about his time in Italy. It wasn't until he was in his 70s that he opened up a little about the dangers and horrors of his time in Italy.
When he came home, he started work at the steel mill. He and my mom met at the drugstore soda fountain - where she worked. A little over a year later, they eloped to Yuma ("nice girls did not go to Vegas to get married"). They were married for close to fifty years when my mother passed away seven years ago.
After the babies, grand-babies, and great-grand-babies started arriving, it was hard to find a picture of my dad without one in his arms.
This is my favorite:) Daddy and me snuggling. My dad was so proud that he had raised five good kids. Three of us are teachers, and whenever he would talk about one of us with his old friends that would be the first thing he would proudly say, "This one is a teacher." This blogging thing would have made him proud too. He would have marveled at how smart I was to be able to put my writing and pictures on the internet:)
My father worked hard so that his babies would not have to. My father worked hard to make sure that we always had what we needed. My father worked hard so that we would be able to go to school and play as children. My father worked hard so that we would have every opportunity that he did not. He marveled everyday at how good his life was with his family. And I marvel at how blessed I was to have had such wonderful parents.
Thank you for indulging me in my semi-teaching-related post today. Make sure to give your daddy some love today:)