I'm ashamed to admit that I take my dad for granted. I frequently talk more than I listen. My check-ins and visits and sporadic and sometimes too brief. I know I'm so fortunate to have him, and to still have him around - yet I treat that fact like it's a given and I often forget how amazing he is and why I should try to be more like him.
The biggest reason; his passion. He is always learning. I have lists of things I want to learn about but my dad is the guy who goes to meetings, talks to people to find out what they know, and pays attention. He doesn't flaunt his knowledge. In the midst of a very casual conversation I will discover that he attended a seminar on helping to replenish the diminishing deer population up north and can now tell how old a doe is just by looking at her.
I don't always have the same interests, but it doesn't matter. He is interested enough for the both of us. And his passion is contagious. He listens when anyone talks, and I'm always amazed at the things I tell him that he remembers. He has an incredible memory.
He's also the guy who can fix anything. Anything. When his pipes burst in the winter he fixed them himself. After he fixed his pipes he went over to his church and fixed the broken pipes there.
He looks on the bright side of everything: he discovered that his pipes had burst when the washing machine overflowed, pouring soapy water into the den. His response: "That carpet needed to be cleaned anyway."
At an age when many people are slowing down he is forging a new career making metal parts for machines. He says that so many machines are now being made with plastic parts that people can only get replacement parts for some of their old machinery made out of plastic. He can look at a part or a drawing and make it out of metal, so it will last longer.
And he's so supportive; he drives around the state to see his grandchildren perform in concerts, recitals, sporting events, and plays. He came to my Halloween party -- in costume! He drove 2 1/2 hours (each way!) last Friday to see my brother perform in Les Miz even though my brother told him he was busy after the show and wouldn't be able to chat with him. My dad waited around anyway, just in case, so he could tell my brother how great he was (and chatted up the Director while waiting, telling him how great the show was), then went in to see why my brother was so busy. They were taking official show photos and, instead of leaving, my dad sat and watched as they recreated every scene from the show for photos. Because it was interesting, not because he had nothing better to do. Then he got in his car and didn't get home until 2:30 am.
He's kind and generous. If you want something, he'll give it to you. "It's just stuff," he'll say. When one of my childhood friends was having lingering car issues, he showed up to help her fix her van. He's driving a truck with 400,000 miles on it because "it still works fine." When the odometer hit 400,000 he actually pulled over on the side of the highway to snap a photo. He's shooting for 500,000. He's witty on Facebook and will scan old photos for #tbt (throwback Thursday). He brags up everyone he knows. He would never tell me - or even suggest - that I'm too busy; he shows up whenever I ask him to whether or not I've been consistent in showing up for him.
He's so smart he probably knows how much he means to me, even though I don't tell him enough.I love you dad, and I'm grateful for you every single day.