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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Gentle Giant

I met him when I was  one year old. I had been in the orphanage for a year, when he walked in to meet me. He and Mother had been approved for adoption, if they decided they wanted me. This man was all dressed up, and his shirt collar was starched stiff. When he picked me up I reached up to his collar and discovered it made a scratchy sound if you scratched on it. He thought that was funny.

After a year my adoption was final. By then we had moved to Colorado. This gentle giant, my Daddy was a special man. He would be my mentor, companion, playmate, and role model. He was always there to cushion the tenseness when Mother got angry. My Dad and I enjoyed our dog together, and laughed when he was naughty. Daddy was a house contractor, so with left over materials he built Shep the ultimate dog house. It had a wood floor, a shingled roof, and was painted white with green trim to match our house. 

When I was seven, we moved to Sioux City, Iowa. It was a house designed for a big kid, and a little kid to play. You could go from living room to hall to master bedroom, back to living room. A complete circle so perfect for chasing each other on my trikes. When I outgrew one, Daddy bought a bigger one, and kept the old one. We chased each other in our perfect circle. Then one night I tipped over and cut my chin open on their dresser. After stitches, Mother put an end to that fun.

Daddy spent hours laying on the floor coloring in my coloring books with me. He was never too  busy. He loved the simple things. As I got older, he taught me about one of his loves, cars. He worked on his own cars, changing oil, checking fluids, and even rotating tires. He washed them, waxed them, and did it all in a T Shirt, and old pants. He explained about what he was doing, and I grew to love cars too.

My Dad loved wrestling on TV, he loved boating and horseback riding, and he loved flying, and race cars. He trained pilots in WWll, he was a time keeper at car races, and he also coached women's basketball. He had so many dreams, and enjoyed life, for awhile. My mother did not enjoy any of those things. One by one he gave them up, except flying his plane. He was unselfish and he willingly gave up all he was to make her happy. He was always about helping others. He had a heart bigger than anyone I ever knew. 

He loved his Lord first of all, then his family, then all others. Many nights as I passed their room, I saw him in prayer on his knees. There was no one he didn't help if they needed it. There was no one he didn't give a second and third chance if they messed up. He had a bad heart, yet he worked hard, so we could have everything we wanted. He was still working his job the day before he died. He came home and said, he was very tired. He died quietly in his sleep that night. He was 85 years old. 

He left great memories. He was a kid at heart. The 4th of July gave him opportunity to be that kid. There were Roman Candles that he and a neighbor shot off to my delight. Then they decided to see how far they could shoot them across the lawn instead of up. The neighbors had their windows open, no screen, and yes, the rocket went straight into their house.
That was good for a laugh, as my Dad and his friend hurried into our house, hoping not to be connected with the mishap.

He loved to go deer hunting too. I often went with him and his friends up in the mountains to hunt. I stayed in the Jeep while they trailed the deer. I still have a tanned hide my Dad gave me. Many times to my Mother's horror, a deer carcass was strung up in our garage to be readied for the butcher shop. As a kid, I found all this very exciting.  As I grew older, those times ended. I don't know what happened, but piece by piece my Dad gave up his pleasures, hobbies, and with no argument did what Mother wanted. I never realized that for many years. In reflecting back after he died, it all came clear. 

This man, this gentle giant, for whatever reason, put his own wants aside for his wife. He was my hero, and now I have a husband that is so much like him. John enjoys his own things, but he too thinks of others first. He is a huge blessing, and he enjoyed my Dad too. These men in my life are what husbands and fathers should be.  Happy Father's Day to my Dad, and my husband! One in Heaven, and one still thankfully with me!