Sunday is Father’s Day. Once a year, we take the time to show our appreciation to all the Dads out there. Those among us who are fortunate to have our Dads in our lives should be grateful. The youngest of seven children, I lost my father when I was 27. He died of a heart attack while driving in Canada on vacation. In some ways it was tragic; we weren’t ready to lose him. Too many things left unsaid; too many goals unachieved. In some ways it was a blessing; he died doing what he loved, and we didn’t have to suffer the pain of watching him wither at the mercy of some debilitating disease.
Dad had been a pipefitter at the paper mill in Waterville. He spent 40 plus years working there to support his family of 7 children. He would have liked to have been a plumber and have had his own business. He never found the courage, the financing, or the business acumen to achieve his dream.
Sadly, Dad didn’t live long enough to see one of his sons achieve that dream in his place. One of my brothers did start his own successful plumbing and heating business. Mom often said she wished Dad could have been around to see that fleet of red vans with white stenciling proclaiming “Plourde’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc.” My brother eventually retired and sold the business, but I suspect Dad was looking down on him with great wistful pride while the business was in operation.
My Dad never got to see all of his grandchildren; there are 25 in all. He also never saw any great-grandchildren and there are at least 47 of those (I’m not 100% sure of that count!). And now there are great-greats showing up. In among those grandchildren are a teacher, a physical therapist, several computer specialists, a couple of business managers, a couple of small business owners, an accountant or two, and many other productive citizens. He also fathered and grandfathered many loving Dads. What a legacy!
Dad never talked about love; he lived it. He spent the better part of his life working hard to provide for us. There was never a shortage of hugs in our house, but he was strict and firm with us. I remember if there was too much horsing around after bedtime, he would come to the foot of the stairs, pound his beefy fist on one of the wooden steps, and threaten (in French), “I’m going to come up there!” I don’t remember that he ever carried out the threat, but we shook between the sheets; there was no question he meant business! We instinctively knew that Dad coming upstairs would NOT be a good thing.
I remember him cooking sometimes. Homefries made from leftover boiled potatoes; French toast; hot dogs; and I especially remember him helping my mother make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, once the oldest of us had married and would come home on those holidays.
I may have inherited his stubbornness; we locked horns from time to time. When I decided to go to college against his wishes, we nearly came to a parting of the ways. He saw no reason that a girl needed to go to college! In the end, he and my mother came to my college graduation, and both shed tears when I went to the podium to give the Ivy Oration. I may have gone on to college, but I learned my work ethic, my values, and the importance of family,growing up on our farm.
Thank you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
And today, June 19, 2011, I wish a happy Father's Day, to his grandsons, who are now both fathers:
Nick is now 10 and has a sister Alexandria (Allie) who will be 7 in July.
My oldest son Eric with his son Austin, when Austin was just a few months old. Austin in now 9 and has a brother, Carter, who is 4 and 1/2.
And Mr. Eva's son Matt with his daughter Rosie when she was about a year old; she is now 2 and 1/2.
Happy Father's Day, guys! Keep up the good work! Keep making us proud.