July 18, 2019

Dad I Cherish the Memories and Lessons Learned

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Dear Dad,

Today marks the eighth Father’s Day without you. Hard to believe it has been that long already, yet it seems like just yesterday you were here. I still have times when I find it almost impossible to imagine going through the rest of my life without you – my best friend and mentor.

Over these past few years, I have run through the memories in my mind of my youth and my time spent with you. I will never forget the days as a little boy when during the summers – I rode with you in your Sears truck traveling to customer’s homes to repair their televisions and radios. I was your gofer who carried your tool caddy and ran out to the truck to get what you needed. The people we met would ask me if I was going to be a television repairman someday and of course, I said yes. One of my fondest memories of riding with you was lunchtime. I really enjoyed going to those little mom and pop diners and drive-in restaurants to get a cheeseburger and fries. It was one of my favorite parts of getting to go with you.

I think of the old days when you had your repair shop down in the basement of Grandpa and Grandma’s restaurant. The same shop they setup for you when you graduated high school and started repairing televisions. We carried a lot of televisions up and down those steps – probably why my back hurts today! I can still smell the wood from the cabinets of the old televisions and radios. I see the boxes of tubes, and other parts lying around, the old capacitors, transformers, picture tubes, tuners, and resistors. The shop had a musty smell to it and it was cluttered. You spent a lot of hours down there working on radios and televisions well into the night.

As far as lessons learned go, there were many but of course, at the time, I really did not know I was learning something that would shape my values, ethics, and views my entire life. The lessons I remember the most are the ones I learned by your example. You got up every day and you went to work day after day, week after week, year in and year out while also raising five kids with Mom. I am sure there were many times you did not want to crawl out of bed and go to work. How many times did you give up getting something you wanted because you had to think of your family first? I learned that a responsible person gets up and goes to work every day and does what they have to do to take care of their responsibilities whether they like it or not, period. From this, I also learned that if you do not like the current situation, you work to change it, but you do it responsibly by planning and preparing for the changes you want.

I remember the time when I was going to tech school and I approached you and Mom about wanting help to pay for an apartment in Ft. Wayne. I was commuting to school each day but many of the other kids in my class were living in apartments not far from school. I got jealous wishing I could have that experience of living away from home in my own apartment. You and Mom told me it did not make economic sense for me to move to Ft. Wayne and pay for an apartment and all the other expenses associated with it. I got mad and asked why you could not help me out. Your response was that you were already helping me out by letting me continue to live in your house rent-free without any responsibilities towards paying for food or utilities. Wow, big lesson here, be thankful for what you have! The ironic thing about all of that is when I graduated from ITT and made the adult decision to move to Florida for my first high tech job, I cried like a baby practically the entire drive down wondering what I was doing leaving my home.

Dutchess was with us for five years Dad. We had to say goodbye to her in 2016 and that was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. She was my connection to you and I was proud to take care of her for you. I spoiled her more than she ever was when you had her. You would probably find that hard to believe because you spoiled her rotten before I got her.

Would you believe I made all of her food for her including cooked chicken, turkey, hamburger, brown rice, and vegetables. I got this brilliant idea that I could make all of that stuff less expensively than the cost of high-end dog food, which was true, but of course, I never factored in how much time it was going to take me. Therefore, if you assume my time cost nothing, then homemade food for Dutchess was less expensive. Dutchess came to like frozen yogurt and she expected this treat every night. Around 6:30 – 7:00 PM each night just like clockwork, she would start bugging us for her nightly treat. She was a loyal companion and I was glad I had her for those five years.

Dad I finally started my own business. Can you believe it? In the beginning, it was scary and exciting at the same time. Throughout my adult life, we talked about me possibly having a business someday. I remember when you were ill and I told you I was thinking about going to school to become a financial planner. You said that you would be my first customer and in the end, you did become my first customer as I took over managing the finances and investments for Mom. I wish you were here for me to tell you all about what I have been up to these past five years and how I got to this point. I know you would be so interested in my new business and the things I have learned.

I have thought about these memories and lessons on and off throughout my adult life. However, when we are young, these thoughts are fleeting as we go about our daily lives and work grind. We never really know how much they mean until the person the memories are about is no longer here. I know that during the couple of years prior to your illness, I started thinking more about my childhood memories and about how much you meant to me. I do not know if that was just a natural part of getting older and maturing, or perhaps it was the universe sending me a message, trying to prepare me for the time when you would not be here.

Thanks again Dad for everything you did for me and everything you taught me. We had a great friendship and a good ride together. I love you and I will be thinking about you a lot on Father’s Day.

Thinking of you always,

Steve

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