Celebrating Dad

I was standing before a rack of greeting cards the other day, reading through the selection of Father’s Day cards.  Most of the sentiments were pretty sappy and thoroughly generic.  I had already made a personalized card for my own Dad using one of my images but was curious what the messages of the mass manufactured retail cards said.

The thing is, Father’s aren’t generic, nor are they mass manufactured.  Everyone’s Dad is different. Even siblings with a common father often have different images of their Dad. Celebrating those unique qualities is what Father’s Day is all about.

Bow ties became my Dad's trademark. He began wearing them while still a photographer's apprentice to prevent his ties from being ruined by the darkroom chemicals.
Bow ties became my Dad’s trademark. He began wearing them while still a photographer’s apprentice to prevent his ties from being ruined by the darkroom chemicals.

Reading through the greeting cards made me stop and think about my own Dad. He’s an amazing guy and is someone I greatly admire and love. I’m fortunate to be able to spend this Father’s Day with my 93-year-old father.

All the things my Dad is to me and to my two brothers, can’t be summed up in a simple card written by a copywriter who’s never met him. He has been, first and foremost, a loving, caring, generous parent to three children who I’m sure challenged both his patience and love many times over the years.

My father was married for 66 years to my mother until she died in November, 2012.  He fell in love with her shortly after returning from World War II and married her two weeks after they met.
My father was married for 66 years to my mother until she died in November, 2012. He fell in love with her shortly after returning from World War II and married her two weeks after they met.

He was a devoted husband of 66 years to my mother until she died last November.  He is a decorated World War II veteran who came home and raced greyhounds with his brother-in-law and sister until he decided to become a professional photographer.

My Dad met up with his older brother, Dale, for a day's visit during World War II in Italy.
My Dad met up with his older brother, Dale, for a day’s visit during World War II in Italy.

He was a small business owner for many years until retiring at age 70.  He was, and continues to be an active member in his church.  For many years, he was a member of the local Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce.  He now serves on the board of the local historic museum.

Gardening has always been one of my Dad's joys.  He's shown here with his rose bushes.
Gardening has always been one of my Dad’s joys. He’s shown here with his rose bushes.

He’s a gardener who loves spending time tending to he vegetables he plants. He’s a handyman who can mend fences, rewire a lamp, and stop a leaky pipe.  He’s a carpenter who built the first home I ever lived in (still standing and in good shape today) and who constantly has little projects in progress at home now. (I have the little end table he made in his high school woodworking class.)

He’s also a good cook who enjoys baking pies, canning the vegetables from his garden or serving up a dinner of chicken and homemade dumplings.

He’s an educator who taught photography workshops for professional photographers’ associations and now visits elementary and high school classrooms to tell the students about growing up on the farm during the Depression or fighting in World War II.

He’s an artist who created thousands of memorable portraits of families, brides, babies, high school seniors, and business people to bring beauty into their lives through his creative photography.

My Dad was a professional portrait photographer for nearly 50 years and owned his own studio.
My Dad was a professional portrait photographer for nearly 50 years and owned his own studio.

He’s lover of poetry and can to this day recite his favorite poems learned in school or read in the little book he carried with him as a soldier.  He’s an avid reader, particularly of history and always has a stack of books on the table beside his chair.  He’s also a fan of Westerns, particularly the vintage television shows “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza”.  But he also likes a good comedy; his current being re-runs of Ray Romano’s series, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.”

He worked long days  and often nights weekends as a professional photographer to make certain we had all the things we needed; such as shoes, vaccinations, braces, a college education, piano lessons, swim lessons.  Then there were the things we didn’t really need but wanted that he also gave us–ice cream cones, birthday parties, a camera, that toy rifle for Christmas, my first Beatles album.

As a grandfather to my sons, my Dad was always ready to lend a helping hand or teach them how to do something whenever he was around.
As a grandfather to my sons, my Dad was always ready to lend a helping hand or teach them how to do something whenever he was around.

He imparted to us those things on which you can’t put a price–a strong work ethic, a love of family, a sense of fairness and respect for others, the value of a good education and the encouragement to think for ourselves, even when we differed in opinions.

But most of all, he’s my Dad.  Now how can you put that into a few brief words of a store-bought greeting card?

4 thoughts on “Celebrating Dad

  1. This was so beautiful Cheryl. Glad you were able to be with your Dad on Father’s Day.Give Leon a hug for me! Bridget

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