Father’s Day is Sunday. And this week I want to focus on the importance of fathers, starting with a tribute to my own father. I love my dad. He holds a very special place in my heart, mostly because of my father’s legacy of work and love he bestowed upon me and my siblings. *My affiliate links are used in this post.*
My Father, the Truck Driver
Growing up my dad wasn’t home much because he was a long-haul over-the-road truck driver. He was a self-employed owner operator. He was usually gone every day during the week and home maybe a day or two of the weekend, only to leave again for several days. My biggest fear growing up was always that my dad would get killed driving his semi truck. How grateful I am that God answered my family’s prayer of protection to be upon him in his travels for the last 30+ years.
Fortunately, he took me trucking with him several times as a little girl. And I loved trucking with my father. My first trip, I believe, was when I was maybe only 7 years old, and I went to Miami, Florida. We spent a day at Miami Beach with my aunt and cousin who live there. We then spent a day at Gator Land too, where I almost wrestled an alligator (sorry, story for another day!) and ate fried alligator meat too. But, I also went to Connecticut with him, Colorado Springs, CO, which I thought was beautiful and for the longest time wanted to live there when I grew up. I also went to St. Louis, Missouri and saw the Arch, crossed over the Mississippi River several times, and more.
My love of this country and traveling started from trucking with my dad. I would pour over the atlas he had in the truck (GPS is so not as cool) and try to memorize capital cities for states, find where we were on the map, and all sorts of great things. I also talked on the CB radio, sat on his lap and “drove” down the interstate, slept head to toe on the tiny twin mattress in back, and grew to love Ray Bradbury short stories, Where the Red Fern Grows, mystery stories, and other great books on tape. I had such a blast traveling in the truck with my father, beating him at Rummy, singing children’s songs, playing “I Spy,” honking his truck horn at cars (where people where doing the “honk your horn” gesture) and at cows, and much more.
When I wasn’t truck driving with him, my father would send home postcards from all across the country. In fact, in first grade he took one of my stuffed animals and made him his traveling buddy and would write postcards about their adventures and send them to my first grade teacher who would then share them and hang them up in class (seriously, first grade was my favorite academic year). I felt special to have my dad part of my educational experience, especially when he couldn’t physically be there. He even came to school and let our class explore his semi truck.
When my father wasn’t trucking, he was often found sleeping. He fell asleep quickly and snored loudly as he did so. I’m convinced my dad is perpetually tired. But, he never sleeps in. Never. He’s up with the birds (unlike his wife), and ready to go. And go he does. My father isn’t usually one to enjoy “down time” for very long. He’s always itching to do something (or just itching, or bouncing his leg).
Because, my dad is a quasi jack-of-all-trades. He dabbles in just about every profession. He is a self-proclaimed (though he’s never actually claimed them) inventor, dry-waller, plumber, electrician, gardener, mechanic, investor, businessman, builder, philosopher, natural health advocate, comedian, book writer, storyteller, theologist, teacher, and conspiracy theorist. Let’s just say, he doesn’t just listen to his truck’s engine as he drives his truck. He’s constantly learning because he loves learning, even if he never ended up completing his bachelor’s degree and can barely spell. He loves reading (or listening) to books of all kinds as well as watching documentaries. Nothing stops my father from trying again and again, sometimes much to my mother’s dismay; he can be pretty stubborn, and his temper can flair quickly, complete with some expletives here and there.
Thankfully, he has a pretty fun personality and interesting sense of humor. He’s a people person and has no problem talking to strangers and tries to crack jokes with random people he meets. From pantomiming a robot and saying “We. Want. Popcorn.” and slamming his fist on the counter of the concession stand at a movie theater (to which the lady was completely unresponsive but us kids were dying with embarrassment) to him once asking me, after I was complaining about something, “Do you hear that? Do you hear the dripping noise?” to which everyone in the room stopped and listened very carefully. Then he replied “That’s my heart bleeding for ya” and then he burst out laughing. Thanks dad!
Home Life with a Traveling Father
It was interesting living in a household of nine children with only one parent really around to discipline us and raise us, let alone run a household. I know things would have been very different if my dad had held a regular 9-5 job. But, the reality is, that from before my birth until this year, my dad was gone more than he was at home. It caused friction and numerous fights between him and my mother when he was home, and he was often trying to fix this or that around the house or on a car or attend to his church responsibilities, that we didn’t have much time together even when he was home.
It meant the world to me as a kid when, upon missing my birthday, would come home with a small simple, truck stop gift, like a 5-piece wood puzzle of the letter A, since they were all out of the letter K (so he went with the second letter in my name). The fact that he was thinking about me and what was going on in my life always spoke volumes about the type of love he had for me. Even a simple question or comment about a concert or event that he missed because he was on the road meant a great deal to me. I knew my dad wanted to be there. He was my support even when he couldn’t physically be there.
My Father’s Legacy of Work
But, surprisingly, my dad taught me many things despite not being home a lot. He taught me to work hard. My dad let me help him plant flowers and a garden. He let me help in our various remodeling projects around the house. He often asked for my small hands to aide him while working on the truck (my father’s hands are large and I’m the baby of the family). And I would help him cook in the kitchen too, scones being my favorite to help with.
He also taught me that if you do something, you have to do it right. My dad would often let us kids wash his big semi truck for money. But, I remember one time he didn’t think I did a good enough job and made me wash it all over again before I got paid. But, my dad was also willing to help with my work, especially on Sunday mornings as I delivered newspapers as a paper girl. He helped fix my bicycles too and taught me how to drive a car (my mother mostly refused to do so).
And my dad loved to dole out work assignments and projects, telling you that he “had a project for ya” and wanted a “full report” that night or when he came home again.
My dad also gave me an appreciation for the outdoors as he would periodically take us camping. My favorite was the daddy-daughter campouts with church. I also loved the few times we went fishing and hiking. My dad is an adventurer; he still wants to take his kids on a white-water rafting trip. My father is a dreamer.
My Father’s Legacy of Love and Faith
My dad is stubborn; but, the things he’s most stubborn about are his love toward his children and his faith. He is faithful and loyal to his wife of 40 years and still considers her a “foxy lady.” And my dad, despite his rough hands, dirty clothes, and goofy-looking exterior, is a softie. My dad cries more than my mother. He can blubber like a baby watching a cheesy 30 second commercial on TV. And if his child ever performed or did something amazing, he was crying. That man is proud of his children and grandchildren and his happiness just can’t be kept inside.
And he’s the best grandfather to his 27+ grandkids. He gets on the floor and growls and chases them, tosses them in the air, reads them stories, laughs with them, plays with them, and so much more. In many ways it’s been great having a father as a truck driver as he has frequently visited us here in Indianapolis (the Crossroads of America). He sends his grandchildren postcards in the mail now too.
Recognize that open mouth pic? See where I get my goofy side?
And my Dad is very stubborn about his faith. My dad has never given up his testimony of Jesus Christ and never broken his covenants. He’s never once drank alcohol or smoked/chewed tobacco even with several years spent in the military. He actively serves at church, and has served as a branch presidency second counselor, Sunday school teacher, ward missionary, ward clerk, and more.
He also faithfully served a two-year mission when he was 19 in Washington state. He takes missionary work seriously, as well as keeping only good influences in our home. He has on numerous occasions turned off a movie or TV show that was “garbage,” aka getting too steamy. He would tell us to “Off it! O-F-F!” when he wanted us off the TV or computer, often for family time or dinner.
My dad was always the spiritual leader in our home, leading us in family prayer, family scripture study, inviting the missionaries over (often for breakfast, which he would cook himself as my mother doesn’t not get up before like 10am), holding Family Home Evening, and Family Councils.
A Daughter’s Love
My favorite memories of my dad are of him telling me and my sisters bedtime stories. He would often tell classic fairytale stories, the Three Little Pigs being the favorite, where he would mess up the details, and my sister and I would correct him. He would also tell us crazy tales about trucking on the road, and meeting interesting characters, some of them from out of this world (literally). We would always have to guess if the story really happened or not. Some I still don’t know for sure if he made up or not!
I also remember snuggling on my father’s lap, where he’d bounce his leg. I often fell asleep sitting in his lap. I love that bouncing, fidgeting knee!
And anytime I smell diesel or visit a truck stop, I can’t help but think of my awesome father.
I love my dad so much. And I know he loves me. He’s far from perfect and has many interesting quirks, but he’s a great father. He calls me often, even to just chat for two minutes to see how my family and I are doing. He always tells me how proud he is of me, and how confident he is that things will work out well for us, and that we’ll ultimately figure out our way in life. He’s always there, willing and wanting to help. And it continues to mean the world to me. How grateful I am for my father’s legacy.
Happy Father’s Day dad!