He was always experimenting with different hobbies and finding ways to make money off those hobbies. As a kid, I got to raise ducks and chickens, fish for trout in our dugout, eat raw honey from the bee hives and win ribbons from showing sheep in 4-H. Sometimes parents do uncool things trying to be cool and sometimes they just do cool things. For my 4th grade science project I had my six foot four inch father show up in full bee gear. It was the proudest day of my elementary life when my towering father walked in to a classroom in his head-to-toe white suit, face masked by the net hanging from a straw hat and yellow gloves up to the elbows. All the kids were in awe of his size and excited for the honey he brought with him. His curiosity kept my childhood very interesting.
We end up learning a lot from our parents. Whether we like it or not, after sharing the same space together for so long we inevitably pick up a habit or two. Maybe we adopt an affection for clean spaces or a curiosity about how things work. Maybe it’s an interest in books or a stubborn resolve. I picked up a few traits from my dad – some that I have had to work to channel and some that have done me very well in my life.
My dad had to be creative since our farm was twenty minutes from the nearest convenience store and he couldn’t just walk down the street if he needed a special screw and some PVC piping. Mixed with the creativity, my dad is also a stubborn do-it-yourselfer. But for as irritating as it can be to deal with someone who is stubborn – stubbornness is a quality that can really pay off. Most of my childhood was spent watching him fix or build something and I picked up on a few secrets along the way. For example, I learned over three hundred ways that duct tape and baler twine can be used to fix or build something, how to change the brakes in my car and how to start my car by shoving a screwdriver in the carburetor.
On top of that, I learned how to drive a tractor and fix a sink. I now know that every appliance comes a part and most of them can even go back together. Everything that is old will eventually reincarnate as a replacement part for something new so you should never, ever throw anything away. And in case it’s useful information for you to know, you can build a barn entirely out of a re-purposed house but do remember to use a nail puller instead of the back end of a hammer. Oh and before offering to help haul bales, know that bales can be made heavy or light and a seventy pound bale is too heavy for a one hundred and ten pound girl.
So I got real-world training from being around my dad. Some of those skills I don’t need anymore but I’m still proud to know, and some skills have helped me pursue big dreams in my life. From watching his stubborn resolve, I know that if you just decide to do it, it will be done. It might get messy, it might not end up the way you want it to after the first attempt but unless you quit, you will eventually fix it, build it or solve it. Oh, and if it doesn’t go together nicely – kick it and swear at it, mutter at it under your breath and then bang it with a screw driver and try again. It almost always works. What could you do/build/change if you just were too damned stubborn to let anything stop you?
Because of my dad I can install a trailer assembly, fix my dishwasher and my fridge, install a trailer hitch on a van, and build a garbage bin big enough to park a car inside. After watching what he’s managed to put together, I am pretty confident that I can learn, build or fix anything that I put time in to. I know that you can play almost any song on guitar if you can play a C, G, and F chord and as long as you are singing loud and having fun everyone around you will think you are amazing and can’t help but sing along.
Admittedly, there were phases of my growing up that I forgot that my dad did at least kind of understand me. …
My dad never stopped being there for me even when I wasn’t noticing it.
Don’t think they don’t notice you. They might not entirely understand you, might not know how to show you, but they are noticing you. And whether you know it or not, you get to absorb the best of them.
“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint’ than by all means paint and that voice will be silenced”
Vincent van Gogh
Thank you for being around for the first 32 years of my life. I know I’ll be learning from you for at least the next 32.
Happy 60th Birthday Dad.