BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - I'm feeling sentimental about my Dad today. And with Father's Day this weekend, please allow me a few moments to share some thoughts and feelings about mine.
You see, my Dad is in the hospital as I write this. Thankfully, it's nothing too serious and he should be released sometime this weekend.
But it gives me an opportunity to brag on him. That's something my Dad would never do; but he deserves it more than anyone I know.
I'm the oldest of four children in my family, and my father was there for all of us. He managed to work fulltime at an asphalt plant, do chores around the house, help my grandfather with the farm, and still spend quality time with us kids.
Some of my fondest memories of my Dad are times we spent together when I was young. I'll never forget the fishing trips he took me on as a youngster.
The fishing was actually secondary, it was more the whole experience of going. You see, we'd get up really early on a Saturday morning. My dad would make us breakfast (liver sausage was a speciality) and then we'd head for the lake.
We used cane poles and bobbers with night crawlers for bait. When the blue gills were biting; well it didn't get any better than that for a boy from the Midwest.
I'd remember when it was time to leave, I'd never want to leave the lake. I'm sure Dad stayed longer than he planned many times, just because I whined about fishing just a little bit longer.
I also have fond memories of my Dad the "bird house builder." My dad has always been a skilled woodworker, and his specialty was bird houses.
He put out bird houses for the colony of Purple Martins that would come to our yard year after year. These birds were beautiful and amazing. They also brought much joy to my Dad. He'd keep track of the dates they arrived and the dates they "flew south." He dutifully cleaned and maintained the bird houses, which looked like little apartment homes or condominiums. Bird houses were fun to build and my Dad taught me much in his shop.
He is also a great mechanic. This of course was back before cars ran on computer chips. You could actually work on an old Ford Fairlane or pickup truck. And my Dad worked on them all. He could change out brakes or shocks or any number of other parts. I think he drew the line at transmissions, but could do anything else.
I was the tool handler. That means I'd hand my Dad whatever tool he needed when he asked for it. I complained at the time, but would love to have those times together again. I didn't appreciate it near enough and didn't pay close enough attention to the work. But I think Dad understands.
He was rarely too busy to play catch with me when I was an aspiring Little League pitcher. He would handle my fastest fast ball without complaint; even though I tried my hardest to make his hand hurt. He would be so proud when I won and just as proud when I lost. That helped with my character building.
My Dad is an honest, hard working man who raised his kids right. He was in charge of our Catholic upbringing, and you can be sure that me and my siblings were always at Mass or attending special events at our church whenever the doors were open.
I could go on and on about how special my Dad is. I realize I'm among the lucky ones who have a loving Dad who's always been there for me.
Others are not so fortunate.
One final memory involved listening to baseball games on our breezeway. It was a wonderful ritual with me and my Dad. Cardinal baseball never sounded so good as when me and Dad were listening to the radio, cheering the Redbird homers and lamenting the close losses. It was a time of Harry Caray calling the Cardinal games, Bob Gibson on the mound and guys like Orlando Cepeda and Curt Flood covering the field. I'm a diehard Cardinal baseball fan, thanks to my father.
I could write a whole book about my Dad. I think you get the idea. He's a very special man.
I hope that I've been half the Dad to my daughter that my Dad was to me. If I've managed that, I've done pretty good.
Happy Father's Day to all; especially you, Dad.