The past few days i have been thinking about my childhood, in particular, the time spent with my dad and how he influenced me. I am the oldest child and i think dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps. He wanted me to be like him. In many ways i am like him and in many other ways we are polar opposites.
Dad taught me the basics that all fathers teach their sons. He taught me how to ride a horse and how to be a good rodeo cowboy. He taught me how to weld, to hunt, basic gunsmithing, mechanics, how to shoe a horse, how to doctor a horse, how to work cattle, how to be a man, but most importantly, he taught me pride and honor.
Though many of the lessons came later in life, he did teach them to me. He taught me well, and when i didn't listen, he used words.
I left home at 18. I was too smart to be living with a couple of antiquated people and joined the Navy. From the Navy i went to work in the oil patch and i have never looked back nor moved back home. As an adult, we have always had a long distance relationship.
I saw dad a couple times a year but we always met on the first weeked of October for hunting season. This has been a family gathering since 1994. A lot of issues were cussed and discussed in the camp over the years and a lot of life's lessons were learned there as well.
As i grew older, i started appreciating the time we spent together. Dad was my Best Man when i married my late wife and he was there when i laid her in her final resting place. Although many miles always seperated us, he was there when i needed him the most. I could always count on him to be there.
I have only seen my dad cry once in my life. It was at my grandmother's funeral. That was the first and last time. I guess maybe that is why it is so hard for me to shed tears.
I did my best to make him proud of me. I came back to the Church and became well versed in my faith. I joined the Knights of Columbus and moved up to District Deputy, the highest position he held. I say i did it for myself but deep down, i did it for him as well. It has been a journey worth taking and the change was for life.
The best advice he ever gave me came a few days after my late wife's funeral. He said "Son, don't worry about what other people think, you never have before. Live your faith, trust in God, be true to yourself, and follow your heart".
Following his advice, i picked myself up and moved on. It wasn't easy sometimes but i had to do it. I met the most perfect woman i could ever hope to meet and followed my heart. I proposed to her and took her home to meet the parents. They got along so well. Dad knew i had a winner.
We got married but dad couldn't be there because of his illness. He wanted to but just couldn't. As i moved forward in my new life, i talked to dad often. Saught his advice and told him he was full of shit from time to time. Just typical father/son stuff. We talked regulary after the wife and I bought our dream home in the country. Ever time dad called it seemed i was burning a fire.
Dad called me Sunday night and we talked for about 30-45 minutes or so. We talked about everything we had to do to prepare for our annual camping trip. He was getting excited and was ready to go. We talked about him stopping his medical treatments because he was tired of fighting it. We agreed to talk about it at the camp. About 2230 i told him i had to go to bed. Unlike him, I had to get up and go to work the next day. We said our goodbyes and I went on and went to bed planning all i had to get done before leaving for Louisiana. Sweet dreams lay ahead.
About 0630 Monday morning i am driving to work and mom calls me and tells me that dad passed away about an hour ago. I pulled over on the side of the road and let it sink in. I always knew this call was coming, just not this week. I turned around and went home and told the wife. After that, i loaded up and went to work. There was no need for me to rush to Louisiana. Dad has been fighting this disease and we knew he was on borrowed time. All arrangements had been made and his body was donated to the HHT foundation.
It will be a long drive home thinking of dad for most of it i'm sure.