Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is my daddy's birthday.  If he were still alive, he would be 96 today, but he passed away in June 2008.  I miss him every single day.  He was a wonderful man.  He worked very hard at two jobs to provide for our family & also took care of all the upkeep of our home.  When he wasn't working, he loved to read, work on crossword puzzles, build & fix things, & tend his garden.  He had a huge vegetable garden & was so proud when his crops came in!  He also enjoyed cooking & baking.  He was a cook & baker when he served in the Merchant Marine during WWII.  Here he is sometime during his tour of duty, standing on the main street of our town, Blawnox, Pennsylvania ... a suburb of Pittsburgh.  
For reasons unknown to me, the government did not accept the Merchant Marine as being "real service" to our country, so when dad was discharged from the MM, he joined the Army.  He wrote on the back of the photo below "Me at work in Aid Station."
As I mentioned above, dad loved to read.  I remember him reading to me when I was a little girl.  One time in particular, when I wasn't even in school yet, I remember sitting with him on the couch.  He was holding a book in his hands, ready to read to me, & telling me that soon I would be able to read to him!  I used to sit on his shoulders as he carried me up the stairs singing "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to bed we go."  He taught me how to ride my bike.  He built a sandbox for me in our yard, & swings & teeter-totters at our cabin.  Those swings hung from the limbs of very tall trees.  I would say "come push me daddy" & he would grasp the back of the swing seat, move back, & then go running so that he ran underneath the swing seat & I swung very, very high.  I think this gave my mother more than a few gray hairs   : )   I remember once upon a time when I was very tiny ... we were still living in the upstairs of our home because he & his friends were building it a bit at a time ... & him telling me something was hiding somewhere for me.  I looked around & found some malted milk balls!  No doubt this is where my love affair with candy began   : ) 

The photo below was taken at our cabin in Marienville, PA.  It was a lovely place even though I was allergic to something there & developed childhood asthma (we found out later that I was allergic to mold & something I can no longer remember).  The nights were the worst of it, but things weren't too bad for me during the day.  I can't remember this photo being taken but it was obviously in the fall & dad apparently raked up piles of leaves so we could jump in them.  I kind of look a little bit like Scout from the movie "To Kill A Mockingbird," don't I?  Anyway, see that cute little cocker spaniel that dad is holding?  Her name is Midnight.  Midnight was my gift on my 7th birthday.   
Here are me & dad a couple years later at Lolita Beach ... a little swimming lake in Marienville.  My right arm looks almost as long as my body, doesn't it   : )  
Family was very important to dad.  This is a photo of him & his mother, my grandma, on a very special day.  I can't remember if it's the day that my cousin Jimmy was ordained as a priest (that's Jimmy wearing glasses in the background), or if it was the day my cousin Susie, Jimmy's sister, became a nun. 
John & I had four children.  Two are in heaven because they were born too early to survive (Michael at 4-1/2 months & John at 5-1/2 months), but Kati & Matt are here on earth & they were the apples of dad's eye. He absolutely adored them.  John had a job transfer to Florida two years after we married & dad & mom moved to the town next to us about two years later when Kati was about a year old.  Here are dad, Kati & Matt taking a break from swimming in dad's pool.
Dad was very, very sad when John & I moved to Montana a few years later.  Just a short time before we decided to make the move, a little girl came trotting by dad's house on this pony.  She stopped to say hello & mentioned that she had to be sell the pony.  Dad was looking into buying the pony for Kati, but that didn't happen since we made the decision to move away.  At least Kati got to sit on the pony for a while   : )   I don't know if she remembers this.  I'll have to ask her.  
Dad was always making jokes & being funny. Here he is clowning in his back yard.
Dad loved dogs.  He is relaxing here with his best friend, Tracy.  Tracy was his constant companion for many years.  She even saved dad & Matt from a rattlesnake once when they were hiking in a nearby wooded area! It broke dad's heart when he had to put her down.    
I mentioned that dad liked to build & fix things & also liked to cook.  Here he is in his later years doing both.  Do you see that large gardenia bush near dad's tool shed? John bought me that as a small potted plant one year.  When it got too big for its pot, we gave it to mom & dad to plant in their yard. It smelled like heaven when it was in bloom   : )  

After my mother passed away in 2005, dad's health declined.  He was unable to do much of anything toward the end except sit in his recliner or in a lawn chair on his deck.  It was very sad to see this once strong man who was always busy doing something being unable to even walk a few steps without needing to stop to catch his breath.  This was the result of years of working as a welder in a steel mill, not having the adequate protection for his health.  
After my mother passed away, John & I wanted dad to come live with us but he didn't want to leave Florida.  He always referred to it as "paradise."  I therefore started calling dad every day at 5 o'clock, just to say hello & to make sure he was okay. For over a year after he died, there were still times when I would find myself looking at the clock & thinking "it's almost time to call dad" & then remember I couldn't do that anymore.  The woman my brother & I had hired to look after dad told me that he always looked forward to those daily calls. He would watch the clock & wait for them.  I would always end the calls by saying "I love & miss you dad," & he would respond with "I love & miss you too honey."  If you think the tears are rolling down my face by now, you are right.  

Happy Birthday Daddy!  I love & miss you more than you know. 

31 comments:

Kevin said...

Oh Shirlee - what a beautiful tribute to your father. And yes, you have the tears running down my face as well. You were lucky to have such a loving, caring father and I can sure see why you miss him. Someday you'll be together again, I know. I'm sure he's watching over you every day and is very proud of the fine lady you are.

Sally said...

Shirlee I have tears in my eyes reading this and am thinking of my own Dad as I read it. What a beautiful post for your wonderful Dad. Hugs to you my friend xxx

Beauty Bonnet said...

Many beautiful memories of your father (I was the same, tearing up and remembering my own Dad). What a great dad he was, no wonder you miss him dearly.

Carol said...

I loved reading your wonderful memories of your dear father, Shirlee--he sounds like a loving and hard-working man. How lucky you are to have shared all those great times with him and I really enjoyed seeing the old photos (you definitely resemble Scout in the one!)... Treasure your memories, my friend.

Krista said...

What a very sweet tribute to your father. Looks like he lived a long and happy life. Loved your stories. I also got a cocker spaniel when I was 7, except mine was tan. You have wonderful memories. It is hard when they are gone. My Dad passed three years ago and I miss him every day too. I always wish there could be one more conversation, you know? Keep your memories always in your heart.

Robin said...

What a wonderful written and visual tribute to your Dad that you shared with us, Shirlee! I know he is smiling down on you today.

Robin in Virginia

Ann at Beadlework. said...

What a beautiful post from the heart. I so enjoyed reading it.

Robin said...

Such beautiful memories. And yes, if I were to blink right now, the tears would spill. You are very fortunate to have had such a wonderful father.

Michelle said...

An absolute beautiful post Shirlee - I joined you my friend tears were rolling down my eyes too - god bless you xx

Danice said...

What cherished photos, Shirlee. I wish we had more photos of my dad. He would have been 92 on the 24th February. Thank you for sharing with us :)

Vickie said...

What a loving tribute to your dear father Shirlee. I am so glad for you that you had a great father, and you have very good memories to treasure. Thanks for sharing.

Maggee said...

Wow--what a GREAT post! Such a great tribute to your Dad! I enjoyed every sentence and the photos, of course! You will meet him heaven... (my Dad would be 104 if he were still alive! But he died in 1981, and my Mom in 1985)Hugs!

Beth said...

Wonderful memories Shirlee.

Simply Victoria said...

With blurry, teary eyes I am typing. Thanks for sharing your precious memories of your dad. He was a handsome man and sounds like he loved you dearly. What a gift!

Myra said...

What a wonderful tribute to your dad Shirlee. It sounds like he was a really amazing gentleman and you were lucky to have him as a father.

Pam in IL said...

Shirlee, tears are rolling down my face too. Such a beautiful post about your dad. You have wonderful memories of your dad.

It was four years ago today that my dad suffered a massive stroke and I'm feeling really sad and missing him so.

Marsha said...

What a wonderful story and a wonderful Dad. I know exactly where Blawnox is. I grew up in O'Hara Township and went to Fox Chapel HS. When my brother was first married he lived down on River Rd. With the railroad behind his apt. And the river in front. My SIL had a plant store on the main street in Blawnox. I can imagine that tree with the swing on one of those hills. Yikes!

Kati Johns said...

I just shared this with dante and phoebe. They loved hearing more about their great grandpa and even teared up at the end of the story. Thank you for sharing this. I have so many memories of grandpa and have shared them with the kids. We include him and grandma in our prayers every night but this really helped him come alive again for them. And yes I remember the pony. Phoebe wants one now. :)

Annette-California said...

Beautiful tribute to your father Shirlee! So much so that I too had tears and while reading all your lovely post, it brought many memories of my dad. So wonderful and oh yes your dad is with you in spirit everyday. Hugs to you.
Thank you for sharing.
love Annette

Julie said...

A very beautiful post Shirlee. Thank you for sharing some of your lovely memories and stories.

My dad is also an angel, we used to chat every day too, and I miss him very much.

Peggy Lee said...

Wonderful story...beautiful memories.
Thanks for sharing.

Sherry said...

Shirlee, your father sounds like he was a wonderful man. I know you miss him terribly. Thank you for sharing this special and personal post with us.

Judy said...

Such a beautiful tribute to your father. It was a pleasure to read some of your fond memories.

Judy Heartland stitcher

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Happy Birthday Shirlee's Daddy!

What a wonderful story of an unremarkable man. He wasn't famous, he didn't invent anything, he wasn't rich or powerful. But he did the most important job there is - being a Husband and a Dad. And he did it well too, you were lucky to have a Dad like that and he was lucky to have your as his daughter, who truly appreciates her father. That is what makes you both so remarkable.

I love all those photos too, they tell such a great story in themselves.

Chris said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Dad. He sounds like a very special guy.
Hugs

Stitchy Mc Floss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Hi Shirlee, such a beautiful tribute to your father. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

The Inspired Stitcher said...

What a loving tribute. You have some wonderful memories and some really fun pictures. Hugs and squeezes.

Heritage Hall said...

What a cherished legacy that generation of your Dad's has left
to us all, but particularly to their Families. Your Dad and others had a nobility of spirit that asked for little in return while giving so much of themselves. Shirlee, just reading your blog convinces me that you greatly honor his memory
by the life you lead and the beliefs you share with us. Bless
you for this lovely Birthday memorial. Please pass the Kleenex for these tears.

Theresa said...

What a lovely, lovely tribute to a special man! It makes me miss my own dad : ( weren't the men of that generation such heroes....so faithful to their families and country. Thank you for writing this!

Catherine said...

Such a heartfelt tribute to your dad ~ I enjoyed the photos and the stories!