My Dad: The Greatest Man I’ve Ever Known
My dad was a hard worker all his life. As a child he spent his time helping neighbors work in their gardens. As he got older, he built himself a shoe-shine box and made money shining shoes in town. In the fall of each year, he put his school clothes on lay-away and each time he made a dollar, he would pay off his clothes. He didn’t have much, but he wasn’t afraid to work hard.
A close friend of my dad’s says, “He was one of a kind. He was one of the best firefighters I have ever known. In his 27 years with the fire department, he came in contact thousands of people on thousands of runs. He impacted more people’s lives than anyone could imagine. He was a Marine and very proud of the fact. He was a painter. He loved to cook and he love to fish, but more important he loved and was so proud of his two girls. He talked about them all the time.”
At the fire department and my dad was the driver for early morning calls. While driving the sirens would be yelling and the red lights a flashing, but the truck would only be going about five miles per hour. Then when he hit the railroad tracks down the street from the station the engine would roar and he would speed up. Once he ran over the tracks he finally woke up.
He was also a big tease. One day at the fire station a man came in the front door looked right at my dad and said “Call me a cab! Call me a cab!” My dad looked at him and said “Okay, you’re a cab.” His quick wit never failed him.
My dad loved to go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. He and his friends would go deep sea fishing all day and then go eat at his favorite place, The Black Diamond Oyster Bar. His friends loved it too, because my dad would only eat half of his meal and they would get to finish his leftovers.
After a full day of fishing out in the sun, my dad would want to go night fishing off the pier. His friends couldn’t keep up. They would go back to the hotel and sleep while he fished again.
On one of their trips to Corpus, they stopped in a small town to get some supplies. He and his friend were arguing about orange juice when they heard a little voice ask, “Do you boys always argue like this?” They turned around and saw three elderly women with their carts staring. My dad’s friend joked, “He has been doing that since we got married”. The looks on the ladies faces were priceless. Then my dad said, “Come on honey, it’s time to go”, and they skipped off together. As they drove away the faces of elderly people peeked out the windows of the store. My dad and his friends laughed the rest of the way to the coast.
My dad often displayed a gruff demeanor, but he was really a romantic at heart. One of the things that I learned about him was that he was truly a matchmaker. He wanted everyone to find that “special someone”. He matched up some of his friends and was so proud that he was the one who introduced them and got them together. Not all of his matchmaking efforts worked out, but he didn’t quit trying.
In keeping with his romantic side and his love of surprises, my stepmother shared about Jan.25, 2006. Unbeknownst to her, my dad had spent a month planning their engagement day. He told all of their friends and made all of the arrangements. He even arranged to have each of their kids to come from out of town to share in that special night. Although there were a few obstacles thrown in the way, my stepmother’s friend managed to get her to the night club at exactly 7:30 on that Wednesday night. When she arrived my dad whisked her out onto the dance floor, saying” Let’s go dance.” The DJ was singing an old Righteous Brothers song and she looked around to see that they were the only ones dancing and that the dance floor was covered in rose petals. She tried to ask him what was going on, but he only said to look up at the big screen. There were the words “D. I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me? J.” My dad took the microphone and got down on one knee and proposed. Of course she said “YES.” Then she heard the applause and looked around to see over 50 of their friends applauding and congratulating them. It was one of the happiest days of her life and my dad was so proud that he had pulled it all off without her knowing about it.
My sister and I couldn’t have asked for a better dad. He knew how to make us laugh, he knew how to push our buttons, and he knew how to teach us right from wrong.
On my sixteenth birthday, he surprised me by filling my bedroom with balloons. He had spent all afternoon at the party store blowing up the balloons and driving them back to the house trying to make it a special day for me. He was always willing to take time out of his schedule to make sure we knew he cared.
He always made time to spend with his daughters. Every summer when I was little my dad took me to the local Kiddie Fishing Tournament. He taught me how to find worms in the little cup of dirt, how to bait my hook, and how to cast my line into the water. It was during those summer days that he passed his love of fishing down to me.
He loved children. When I was in elementary school, my dad volunteered as a substitute teacher for my 2nd grade class.
He put M&M’s in my sister’s sandwiches when he made her school lunch.
During high school when I tried out for the drill team and didn’t make it, my dad was there to support me. He wrote me a letter telling me how proud he was of me and that he understood how upset I must have been. That letter meant so much to me that I still have it to remind me how much my dad loved and cared about me. He was, and still is, my biggest supporter.
My dad loved animals, especially dogs. He and our dog, Scruffy were best friends. Scruffy followed him around the house and they would play catch outside together with a tennis ball. Just this past year, my dad went to the animal shelter and came home with a dog, Coco. He loved that dog so much; he even took her on his last road trip to Louisiana.
My dad had the best personality and was always finding ways to play jokes on people, especially my sister. One day when she and I were little we went out to lunch with my dad. When she went to the restroom, my dad said, “Let’s play a trick on her!” and he switched her Sprite with his water. She came back to the table and we waited for her to take a drink. When she did she made the funniest face and spit out the water on the table. My dad burst out laughing and said, “Gotcha!” Later that day, my sister made sure to get him back. She rigged a contraption in his shower so that when he opened the shower door a small toy swung from a string and hit him in the face. My dad and sister were always trying to get each back with the jokes they played.
Even up until his final days he was making jokes. I went to visit my dad in the hospital one day last week and we were watching T.V. There was a man on the screen who was skydiving and fell and broke both his legs. My dad laughed and said, “That man is not very smart. He must be an Aggie!” I smiled and laughed. Even in his weakest of times, he still had his wits about him. He was still my dad.
Whenever I was having arguments with my mom, C, or friends, I knew I could always talk to my dad. He was always there to listen to my problems and he supported me through all the difficult times. He taught me that my feelings are important and I shouldn’t let anyone tell me otherwise. He taught me to trust my heart and do what I feel is right. I learned to trust myself and to believe in myself because of him. He encouraged me to do what I love and always told me that I could do anything. I wouldn’t be where I am, or have what I have, if it weren’t for him.
I love you, Dad.