One of the areas I really wanted to tackle this year was our entry closet. While it is a decent size and does hold coats, it also holds a huge assortment of scrapbooking stuff (I should have joined a twelve step program) as well as lots of memorabilia that has been piling up. It had been weighing on my mind but I knew it would be time consuming.
Finally, vacation days dedicated directly to working on some home projects! I made it to the closet on day one and at first it was super easy. I was able to toss a few coats and organized the one day to be filled scrapbooks in a more efficient way. As I started sifting through the rest, however, I ran into THE box. If you have been reading for a bit then you know I lost my dad to colon cancer almost 13 years ago when he was only 58. I was the executor of his estate and the first year it occupied my mind and I pretty much tossed all the personal items, his pictures, sympathy cards, funeral memorabilia, etc into a big box and stored it in the closet. It was time to open the box.
I was not prepared, friends, for the range of emotions this box held. I loved my daddy y’all and always considered myself a daddy’s girl. He was not the “standard” dad. Typically 9 months out of the year for pretty much my entire life my dad was on the road working. We lived for that phone call once a week to catch up. It was not easy for my mom and the only saving grace was he provided enough she did not have to worry much about finances.
When he did come home there was no idle time but instead lots of projects. He was definitely much more type A than my mom so the condition of the house on the daily was sometimes an issue. If he wasn’t working on the cars or tearing out some wall in our house he was typically at the beer joint. Of course he quit drinking when I was 14 which was amazing but also strange and a whole different level of crazy for our family but that’s a story for a different day!
The thing is, as a daughter, I longed for my dad to be home. I loved his attention and I loved for him to hug me and he always made me feel, well, pretty much like the prettiest girl around. His hugs were the very best and I truly always believed I was his favorite. Surprisingly I do not really remember being angry that he was gone so much I just missed him.
My daddy did a lot of things wrong. He could be so hard on us and really did not take any crap when he was home. He griped and complained all the time about the dishes in the sink and the condition of our rooms and goodness how many Saturdays once I started driving was I made to wash and wax my dang car. Church made my dad nervous and I am not sure I ever sat in a pew with him. A role model of a husband he was definitely not. I honestly give my mom the “stand by your man” award because I know I would have bailed but she stuck it out until he finally gave up.
When you become an adult, you realize how tough all of these life decisions really are. You learn that sometimes you make decisions you feel are best even if others might frown upon them. We become parents and we do things we swore we would never do like gripe all the time about the house (good grief could I have picked up some other habit from him) and sometimes we (consciously) do not live our lives in a Christ like way.
Sometimes I think my dad removed himself so much of the year because he knew it was best for us, especially when he was still drinking. His job fulfilled him in such a way that he was truly happier when he was on the road doing what he loved. Coming home at first was a joyful reunion but as the days between jobs stretched on his joy quickly faded.
My dad was not a traveling salesman out on business trips with an expense account. He was building pipeline across some of the most beautiful parts of our country. It was easy to see why he loved it as I looked through his many pictures of pipelines stretched across the unseen parts in the middle of a forest or a canyon typically not traveled by the typical person. He was working in water up to his waist, laying contorted underneath pipes and walking up and down what I would consider mountains. He was blue collar at its best and so proud to be a dang American.
As I looked at all these pictures he took of the pipelines stretching across the countryside and read the sweet words people who knew him on the road had to say I bawled my eyes out. I wanted so badly to have one more chance to tell him I understand now. Right or wrong we all make decisions as parents we feel are best for our family. My daddy loved his job! I could only hope to have so much passion about my job that I would want to take a million pictures of me doing it. He thought he was doing what was right.
Maybe he was just incredibly selfish. Maybe I am too many days. At the end of the day I knew he loved us and he was oh so proud of us. I’m thankful for the relationship I did have with my dad and for all the things we had because he worked so hard. I do not regret one ounce the time I invested loving him for just the man he was.
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