Friday, May 30, 2008

Let me tell you about my Dad

My father is 78 years old today.
Born May 30, 1930.
He was the youngest of 6 children and his mother died when he was only 6 years old.

He is the baby in this picture, with his Dad Romeo, and his 5 siblings.

He married my mom in 1951
Here they are in their dating days.
and together they had 8 children.

Here we all are as adults, at Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary.

He worked 32 years as an Allstate Insurance agent.

When I was growing up I didn't understand why he was gone so much. In my grade school years he'd often come home only to eat dinner and leave again, often returning after we were all asleep. When I became an adult I was able to appreciate that fact that he did all of this for keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We were able to have a full time mom at home with us because of the sacrifices he made.

On my Dad's 37th birthday, in 1967, my mother gave birth to their 8th and last child, Christopher.

Happy Birthday Chris!

When Dad was 32 he took up running. He ran in more than 30 marathons, 17 in Boston. At age 59 he won the world's record in his age division for an ultraendurance run. This is much longer than a marathon. It's a 24 hour race. He competed in several but set the record in 1989 by running 139 miles and 429 yards in 24 hours. His picture and story were in Sports Illustrated in 1990:

Here are some random memories I have of my dad:

*I mentioned once to him when I was a teenager that I loved Shamrock shakes at McDonalds. He brought me one every day for weeks. I got so tired of drinking those but I never wanted to tell him because I loved that he kept doing it for me.

*When the twins were born in 1965 and I was in the 5th grade, he came to school to tell me in person!

*For a few years around Christmas time he'd make a trip to the post office to pick up Santa's letters because he knew I enjoyed reading them.

*He was always encouraging me to earn money. One year when I was still in grade school he thought of a particularly creative way. He suggested I go door to door in the neighborhood and ask if I could have their read copy of the Sunday's paper. After I got 10 I would bring them home. Then he had me cut up each and every engagement and wedding announcement complete with picture (there were a lot of those in the paper back then). We would look up each home address and send them 10 copies of their announcement. He helped me type up a "form letter" to include with the pictures, asking that they send me what they think it was worth to them. People responded very well back then, and in the mail the following week I would often receive a dollar or two back in each envelope. Not all would respond, but several would. And that was a lot of money to me back in the 60s.

*When someone would cut my dad off while driving on the freeway, I remember him just smiling at them and waving. I still think of this nearly every time someone does this to me.

*One day our neighbor came over asking my parents to sign her petition. It had something to do with opening adoptions as my neighbor had been adopted as a child and I think she wanted to find her biological mother. My dad readily signed it and after the neighbor left I said something to him like, "I didn't know you felt so strongly about adoptive children's rights." He said, "I don't, but our neighbor does and I'm trying to support her." I always think of this example when someone wants me to donate to their cause even if I am not passionate about it.

*My dad always wanted us to sing "Love at Home" at every single Family Night. We had no music and we were all off key and to this day I still do not like that song. It has great words, but it so reminds me of our voices. Yet, there is something about it because my dad loved it.

*He taught us all how to live well below our means. He taught us that a bank account offers so much more security than tangible "items".

*Whenever we were on vacation my dad made sure to find us a church on Sunday so we could always attend. As an adult I have always looked forward to attending church in whatever town we happened to be in. To me his message spoke volumes to me. By this simple act he taught us all just how much our church means to him.

*My dad always loved to talk to strangers. He still does. Makes friends wherever he is. Perhaps this is why I love people so much, too.

*Whenever my dad would drive me to school I always hoped my friends would see me with him. He always looked so handsome and he still does.

*The most endearing memory of my Dad was the last 4 years of my Mom's life. She had Alzheimer's and it progressed very quickly. The last few years of her life she could not carry on a conversation, make any decisions, cook, do laundry, or really help out in their life together. Yet my dad very patiently took care of her every need. He was very selfless. I never heard him complain. There are no words to even express the thankfulness I have to him for taking such good, loving care of her.

My mom passed away over a year ago and last year he remarried. Susan is a wonderful and fun woman we are all enjoying so much. She is kind, respectful of all of us, and just such a joy to be around. She has worked hard at remembering all our names and our interests, and encourages us in our projects. She has brought back that spark in Dad's eyes.



Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Grandpa. You are the greatest. You and Susan should come up here and visit. I would love to see you both.

Anonymous said...

Jill, What a wonderful tribute to your dad! He was very touched and shed more than a few tears. Your memories truly testify as to what a good man he is. It is such a pleasure for me to be a part of his life at this time. And it is even sweeter that I'm accepted in your family. Thank you for this awesome blog. I want to send it to all my family and friends. Thank you so much. Love, Dad and Susan

Brock said...

Happy Birthday, Grandpa. Sorry I had to cut out early, but it was good seeing you last night. I've always felt it a privilege to have your example and legacy as one of things I can point to in my life and say "Yeah, that's where I come from."

Rebecca said...

I really enjoyed this post about your Dad. He sounds like such an awesome man. You are lucky to have such a wonderful father! That is so amazing about his running! Does he still run? I want to be like that!! He has given me inspiration to run, something I really want to pick up again. Thanks for this post.

grandmapeg said...

Jill...I love your dad. He really is as special as how you describe him. He is such a wonderful example to his children and grandchildren. Peggy

Get Weird said...

I think that is the best blog post I have ever read. Bret and I always talk about how we should put grandpa into Wikipedia because he is such an extraordinary person and people everywhere would be fascinated by him. How lucky I am to have so many amazing relatives. Thank you for sharing all those wonderful memories.

Jill said...

Well thank you Whitney for reading it! I love your blog. I look at it all the time.
And I agree, Grandpa is an extraordinary person!

Aunt Jill

amyburb said...

I really enjoyed reading this about your dad Jill. Even though I don't know him, I love to hear about inspiring people and to hear about parents who have made people that I admire who they are. He sounds like a wonderful person just like you.