Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Dad, an Example to Live By

Snowstorms conjure up fond memories of my dad, of his perseverance and his work ethic. He was an extraordinary man. He set examples for me to emulate and embrace for the rest of my life.

My dad was abandoned by his family and grew up in the Stetson Home for Boys in Barre Massachusetts. So he was not a stranger to hard times and hard work. He was tough as nails, loyal, supportive, soft-spoken, wise, and had a good heart.

To shake his hand was like sticking your hand into a closing vice.

Mom said dad never took an unscheduled day off from work. I don’t remember a day that dad stayed home from work eitherSick or not he made his way to work. His life was always about family, home, keeping his car up to snuff, and work. Dad’s leisure time was spent tending to his vegetable garden. It was his pride and joy.

It’s humbling to know I live in the same 200-year-old home with a 230 by 15' driveway as dad. I remember dad shoveling the length and width of that driveway all by himself, then putting tire chains on his car so he could go to work; sometimes that was in the evening after he got home from work, but often at three or four o’clock in the morning so he could be to work by seven.

Today, we have three different sized snow blowers. Not one of which I have ever used. My son, with my brother’s help, perform that task.

It’s also humbling to remember the days when dad needed to make repairs to his car. It was not like today where a mechanic is right around the corner. Car parts were not always available either. Many of dad’s repairs were jury-rigged until he was able to buy the necessary part(s). Nonetheless, no matter how long it might take, he would repair his car -- jury-rigged or not -- shovel the snow, put the tire chains on, eat supper, go to bed, and in the morning drive to work.

In those days, there were no superhighways. Dad’s daily drive to work in Watertown and return trip home was long, precarious, and an arduous travel of intertwining and interconnecting roads. A round trip of about 100-miles.What today would normally take about two hours, took dad a great deal longer then, and even longer in a snowstorm.

Mom told me that when things got tough, dad would say, "Tomorrow will be a better day." But that better day never came for my dad. Despite his many years of loyalty, the company my dad worked for laid him off. Shortly after, he suffered a stroke and left life at sixty-two years old.

Through the years, I have always tried to live up to my dad's example. I never look forward to winter's snow, but I endure the snow, car problems, and all of life's other hassles because of my dad's example. And, I always remember when things get tough and dreary that tomorrow will bring a better day.