My dad was born on October 31, 1924. He passed to new Life on July 9, 2012. He is survived by my dear mother and his loving wife of 65 years, and by my two bothers, two sisters, 14 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
Dad grew up doing the usual things – swimming, fishing, hunting and sports. He graduated from High School in 1943 and immediately joined the US Marine Corps. He served his country from 1943 until 1946 when he returned home and joined his father and brother in the family business. Dad was a volunteer fireman, active in Lions Club, and a member of the Christian Church where he served in most elected positions of those groups.
Here’s a little of what is was like for me growing up; a tribute to my father:
Can you hear that? That’s the six o’clock whistle. People can hear it from all over town. I’d better get for home quick, he’ll be there soon.
I’m standing by the front door now, all out of breath. I see a green GMC pickup truck barreling down Main Street. It downshifts, takes a wide turn at the corner, and slides to a stop out front. Someone jumps out and swings the driver’s door shut hurriedly behind them. The handsome young man walks briskly out around the truck, and in just a few quick stiff-legged-strides, he’s heading up the walk. I can finally catch my breath again and I howler, “Daddy’s home! Mommy? Daddy’s home!”
Growing up for me was special, because I was special. To my dad, I was “Tiger Tom.” I was the number 76 written on a piece of cardboard hung around my dad’s neck on parent’s night at a high school football game. I was, “that’s my boy,” and “rawr, rawr, rawr,” and “go get ‘em Tom.” Whether I was on the field or on the sidelines, I could always hear him cheering me on from up in the stands.
The year I graduated High School they held our annual awards presentations in the middle of the day during school hours, which makes it kind of tough for working parents to attend. I know it wasn’t easy for him to get away from work to be there for me. He probably had to work it out with my uncle, changing lunch hours around and all. Lord only knows everything he gave up for me, but he was there. He was there for Me. I can still remember walking back to my seat, after actually receiving an award, and looking up and seeing him sitting there watching me. I didn’t know ahead of time if he’d be able to make it, but there he was. It felt so good and I was so proud that He was my dad, and to have a dad like that.
I remember when Dad used to take me along on the Lions Club trips to Bears Stadium in Denver to watch the Denver Broncos play. Now That was back in the day. We had some great times together, just us. And then 20 years later, my oldest son and I had the honor of attending a Promise Keepers Men’s Conference with Dad at that same stadium. Of course by then it was renamed Mile High Stadium. Those trips to Denver hold some great memories for me, and I know my son has special memories of his trip there too.
Another thing about growing up with my father is that I could never lie to him. I simply could not bring myself to do it. It just was not in me. Although, I have to admit, I tried it once. It did not work. Suffice it to say, he knew I was lying. Which is partly why it didn’t work. But mostly it didn’t work because I didn’t need to lie to him. My dad always believed in me, even when no one else believed in me. I just could not make myself look at his unconditional love straight in the eye and not be honest with him.
I will miss him. I know I will miss him. I already do. I love you Dad.
Shhhhh! Can you hear that? It’s the six o’clock whistle. Daddy’s home. Daddy’s finally home.