Father’s day

Finding the perfect card for my dad has never been easy. He hates mushy sentiments expressed in a greeting card. He likes funny cards, so I ordered one that I thought he would like, but it was looking like it wouldn’t arrive in time, so I decided to write this for him.

Anyway, a card is not the place to say things left unsaid, and I have wanted to say these things for awhile. My dad isn’t someone I share DNA with. He married my mom when I was 4-years old. Both my parents were very young, so, at times, they behaved more like older siblings. Sometimes this was great, and other times not so great. But having a dad with the energy to play a game of basketball with was a big plus.

When I think of the things I want to thank my parents for, a few things come to mind immediately. I am thankful that my mom, who had me when she was only 16, used cloth diapers. This was not only a more ecological choice, it was also more hygienic. I never had diaper rash. Granted, my grandparents helped raise me, as my mom finished high school.

When I think of my dad, I think of what he has taught me. The first thing that comes to mind is how he taught me how to do my taxes. I have so many friends who have never learned how to do their taxes, and I am so grateful that I am able to do this for myself.

While my family lived in poverty for the first 11 years of my life, it didn’t seem like we were poor. We actually ate a fairly healthy diet because my dad put in a garden every year, he hunted, and he fished. My mom learned how to can, and would put up pickles, green beans, tomatoes and even canned salmon.

My parents would sometimes prepare foods they didn’t even like so that I could try them and make up my own mind about what I liked and disliked. I didn’t realize just how big a deal that was until I started developing nutrition programming during my time with UW-Extension.

My dad taught me persistence and perseverance. Every year, he filled out applications for jobs at the area paper mills. He did this for seven years before getting hired at Paperboard. He later moved to the “big mill” where he worked until September of last year. He was one of nearly 1,000 Verso employees who lost their jobs last year.

This past year has been especially challenging for my dad. He has had to put his mother in a memory care facility. He has had to make a lot of difficult decisions, and he has often beared the brunt of this alone. My dad, like me, isn’t always good at asking for help.

This year, more than anything else, I just want to say “thank you” to my dad and share a story about one of the first Christmases we spent as a family. You see, my dad was the one who taught me about how it is better to give than receive.

Early on in my parents’ marriage, my mom wasn’t much of a cook. My dad had worked as a cook, and cooking was something he enjoyed. My mom wanted to get better at cooking and wanted this Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. It cost $13 plus tax, which was more than what I had saved up.

My dad was going to take me to the store so I could buy the cookbook for my mom, but I told him that I just didn’t have enough money. He said, “Are you sure? Have you looked everywhere in your room?” So I went to look again, and there, underneath my dresser, was a $10 bill! We went over to Shopko and I bought my mom the gift that she still uses to this day.

While my dad didn’t want me to know he had given me that $10, I figured it out. It is something that I have always been grateful for.

Happy father’s day Dad.