If I had to choose just 3 words to describe my dad

A little tribute to my dad on Father’s Day.

Reliable. I remember my dad picking me up from school on my 16th birthday and taking me to the Secretary of State so I could get my driver’s license. Shortly after, I took my sister and brother for a spin in his Chevy Blazer, and later that summer he bought me my first car, a 1980-something gold Ford Escort. The purchase of this car began a series of moments that solidified that my dad was someone I could always count on.

Not only did my dad purchase my first few cars, he repeatedly showed up when my cars inevitably broke down. He once even drove me all the way back to Kalamazoo when one of my cars wouldn’t start back up after stopping for gas on my way out of town heading back to Western. He drove a total of four hours to make sure I got to where I needed to be.

Since the days of my vehicle fiascoes, my dad has seen me through a divorce, being a single parent for a spell (in which he came over A LOT to help me out around the house), another wedding, and the birth of 2 more grandsons. Knowing he showed up time and time again with something as trivial as a crappy car proved to me I could count on him to be there for the big stuff. And he has never once let me down.

Dedicated. Whether it’s to his (former) job, his family, the laundry, the lawn, or golf, the man is dedicated. He hasn’t met a stain or stick that he can’t remove. And just ask him about his hole in ones.

My dad provided modes of transportation not only for me, as I mentioned above, but for my sister and brother as well. There was a period of time where he was driving our rusty old mini van that needed a hockey stick to prop open the trunk. He rode this to and from school, even as a principal, without a second thought while the rest of us drove much nicer vehicles.

Growing up, and to this day, we often run into people who know my dad. He likes to refer to this as being a “pillar of the community.” I have even run into people as far as southern Indiana who worked with my dad. His retirement party involved blown up pictures of one of his school photos and jello shots out on one of his favorite places, a golf course. There have been a few times during the course of my own teaching career that I have run into former students while out and about. My oldest once said to me, “You always run into someone you know.” Proudly, I thought, Yep, just like my dad.

He continued to work as a “pillar of the community” longer than he anticipated to ensure my mom would have his public school health insurance while she was going through cancer treatments. He was by her side the entirety of this scary and uncertain time, calling us often to keep us informed. I will never forget where I was when the message was left on my voicemail that my mom was now in remission. They have spent the years since traveling, renovating their home (a long-time dream of my mom’s), and loving on their grandchildren. I aspire to show the same level of dedication, as well as having the same level of fun at my own retirement party some day, as my dad.

Unwavering. My dad was quite athletic in his youth, the all-star athlete type. Unfortunately, this talent or even strong interest for sports did not pass on to his children, at least not his daughters. Try as we might in such sports as figure skating, soccer, and volleyball, we never attained the all-star title, not even close. Nevertheless and without hesitation, he came to our games and events, supported, and cheered us on. Thankfully, my brother acquired some of my dad’s athletic skills and played hockey for several years, my parents traveling and supporting alongside him all the while.

I remember being particularly exhausted one summer after a rough year of teaching and made a comment that maybe I’ll go back to school and become a veterinarian. My dad didn’t even balk at the idea. He simply said something along the lines of, “I am sure some of your credits would transfer.” His support of me, of us, as people and our choices is unwavering. Even if he doesn’t necessarily understand or agree, he stands by us. And that type unflinching support is one of the best forms of a love a child could ask for.

Just me and my dad in all the glory of ’70s decor.

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