Oh, dad...I miss you.
Today is birthday number 106 for my dad. He's been gone since 2002.
Dad was a poor little hillbilly boy when he married my mom. Like others his age, he had begun smoking when he was about twelve years old.
After marrying mom, he would move his little family to West Virginia, where he worked in the coal mines. Later on in his life, the combination of smoking and black lung gave him breathing problems. But, it was the claustrophobia from being in those underground mines that induced panic when a door was closed, or when air wasn't circulating.
Dad was the only one in the coal camps drafted into World War II, and was sent to manufacture liquid oxygen in Chicago before being sent to Pearl Harbor. He would then be called back to the continent when my mom became deathly ill.
Mom rose up against him and joined the LDS Church in West Virginia, along with my three sisters. It was 1948, a time when women didn't always give ultimatums to their spouse.
It was a decision that would change the course of our family.
Dad moved the family from West Virginia to Ohio for three reasons:
1. To find a better job.
2. To ensure better education for my three sisters.
3. To run away from the Mormon Church.
Little did he know that four months after he moved the family here, this area opened up for missionary work, and two of those elders just happen to tract my mom out.
Dad joined two years later, and was bishop when he baptized me on my eighth birthday.
Dad worked hard. We never, ever had to worry about a roof over our head or food on our table, for dad worked his full time job at Westinghouse, then came home to work through the evening at his own refrigeration/air conditioning business. This was in addition to being bishop.
Dad taught me how to sew. He made all of my maternity tops and dresses, but just couldn't bring himself to put in "darts". It embarrassed him.
He taught me how to make some of the best homemade bread on the planet.
He taught me to not have fear in tearing something apart to see what needs to be fixed; and to be careful to remember how to put it back together. It applied to motors; it applied to life.
Mom and dad taught me how to work, and how to be self-reliant; how to prepare for when times might be hard; how to keep my head above water when times are bad. They taught me that spiritual preparation is far more important than any physical preparation I might do.
They were excellent genealogists, and passed their knowledge and expertise on to me. They had listened to stories and gleaned information from people who were had been born in the mid-1800's; but also taught me to take their information and run down the proof.
I had my dad longer than I had my mom. He lived with us for awhile before having to move him to a nursing home. That was one of the most difficult days of my life.
Dad, Mom, Peter...they've been together for awhile now. I think of them daily. Sometimes I say out loud how I wish they would point me in the right direction when running down an ancestor. After all, they're over there with them. Help me out!
I can hardly wait to see those wonderful parents of mine, and give me the thanks they deserve.