Electrical engineer, math genius, cold warrior (and all that that entails), code maker and code breaker, American patriot, world traveler, Space Age pioneer, beloved of his wife and three children. I could think of about a hundred different ways to describe my dad and that wouldn’t begin to scratch the surface of who he really is and how important he has been in my life, and my development as a child, youth, and adult.
As the oldest of three children, the youngest of whom will be 49 soon, this tribute is long overdue just as it was for my mom.
Both my parents put up with a lot from me in my youth and young adulthood which I won’t go into here but which lesser parents would have long ago thrown away my house and car keys, and said “Good Luck on the Streets”. That would’ve been it for me. By modern standards, this would be fairly routine, I think. I didn’t get along particularly well with my siblings, didn’t fall into places easily, and was a little juvenile delinquent, to boot! Reasons for that assessment are for another time and still longer stories.
That’s their strength, though. Through 56 years of marriage, they raised three productive adults, who love them and each other. Through secret projects, details of which I know very little, travel everywhere, sometimes for long periods away from us, Dad always was prominent in our lives and still is in a great many ways. Even when he was away, he always called and could help with things and made himself available without reservation.
I can’t tell you the many nights, out of guilt mostly, I wouldn’t be able to get to sleep because I had failed to do my homework (math usually) and would get my dad out of bed around the 11 o’clock news hour to help me do my homework. He never complained and was always supportive, showing me how to do things a better way. He NEVER said there was something that I could not do, if I set my mind to it. He was the greatest, most encouraging force in my life while I was growing up and remains so today.
I remember how Dad, the math genius, tried to show my school teachers in the second and third grades, how the so called “new math” was being poorly executed and taught incorrectly. I was getting the right answers, taught Dad’s way (remembering he’s a rocket engineer, too) but being graded as wrong because it wasn’t done the school’s way! 45 years later look at the state of math and science education in America and make up your own mind whose way was best.
More than any of these things, my dad was the first to ever read to me from the Bible. I was about 11 or 12, as I recall, and he was trying to teach me about marriage, the way God meant for it to be. My Dad has always been a believer. We were raised to be believers and between he and my mom, they were probably the biggest reason I am what I have become. Even in my delinquent youth, their prayers, were what protected me. When I was at sea in the Navy, Dad always wrote that the prayers of he and Mom were with me and I believe that to this day.
Dad always defended and tried to help the defenseless and errant. He was up to it, too: physically, intellectually, and emotionally. His mind was and is tight as a drum and he can see multiple approaches to the solution of any problem at the same time. Once when one of my brother’s high school buddies showed up at our front door step late one evening, having gone AWOL from his Navy school, Dad saved him from court martial and certain ruin at that time by contacting his CO and then giving him a bus ticket back to his station. The boy’s own parents had apparently abandoned him to his fate. Another, earlier time, Dad saved our divorced neighbor (when divorce was considered tantamount to a capital crime) from further drunken beatings at the hand of her new husband and tossed the man out. She or one of her sons, our playmates, came over in a panic one night to get my Dad to help. This is way back when police weren’t usually called in on domestic violence incidents because those were between the spouses. Heck, we didn’t even have 911 back then! The man never came back.
Well, this is Dad. He is the best, noblest, man I have ever known. Principled in his approach to life, strong, reliable, and ever supportive of his children and wife in good times and tough times. Christian teacher of Bible in the Catholic Church. Don’t ask me why I am surprised by this but it’s his walk, not mine.
I love you Dad and Happy Father’s Day!