Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anything Your Dad Can Do Mine Can Do...

This post was ready in a partially timely manner but I wanted to fiddle with it and then Zuzu stopped sleeping and my studies are picking up and and and - sigh. So I have a lot more reasons. But there's my abridged list of why my dad is so great. Forgive any typos. I'm really just hitting post here and not looking back!

I don't mean to brag, but my Dad is pretty awesome. 

Ignore the weird girl with the pompom. My dad has a great profile. 

Unlike my mom, my daddy and I have not always been close. We went through a rough time, like a lot of fathers and daughters; it was around age 13. He and my mom were having problems, and I was having none of it. I like to make decisions and my decision was that my dad was a bad person. 

That was a really bad decision. 

My dad could have said, I've done the best I can - I'm not going to bend over backwards to prove to my daughter that I love her. I'm not going to try to convince her. I'm not going to chase her. But he did. My dad spent the next six years making it up to me, trying to show me that he really, really did love me and wanted to be a part of my life. My dad pursued me and pursued my heart; he did not relent, he did not give up. And you guys, I made it difficult - I pushed him away, rolled my eyes, did not say 'I love you back' and (wince) openly told people "I hate my dad." He didn't let that change that he loved me. 

So in case all of that isn't reason enough for my dad to be man of the century year, here's a list (cause we know I love lists) about why my dad is the best: 

1. Storytelling
You've never heard anybody tell a story till you've heard my dad tell a story. It's slow and relaxed, like a Southern summer, so you have to listen close but man, it delivers. He tells me about nail driving contests by a bunch of roaming carpenters from Oklahoma, tails of growing up in the South and the Heartland, and memories of us kids when we were little. It's always a fascinating listen. 

2. Straight-shooting. 
My dad likes people to be honest because he is honest. He's not honest like my mom is honest - so honest it'll knock your teeth out - but honest like a river flows, in that it's just what he knows to be. Some people try to make rivers into lakes or change their courses, but they always find their way back to being a river; my dad is like that too. Whenever he is less than honest, he feels it's wrong and comes back to who he is - a plain ol' straight shooter. 

3. Beauty. 
My dad is an artist. He owns a company that creates - creates backgrounds of roller coasters, museum exhibits, anything that falls under 'fabrication and design.' He is also a master carpenter. He used to build houses. He makes beautiful cards. Even his handwriting is like art, like some sort of Art Deco font (he only ever prints). His love of beauty, and dedication to it in his work, taught me to love beauty too and to realize that you should dedicate your life to it, if that's your calling.

4. Be Silly. 
One of my favorite memories is a holiday - Thanksgiving? Christmas? - I don't even know. It was hot, so hot, and I was baking something chocolate. He kept coming in the kitchen and giving advice (giving advice my dad's FAVORITE thing to do - especially if it's a topic he knows nothing about). I kept telling him to stop it, leave me alone. Finally I got so fed up, I dipped my finger in the batter and smeared it on his face! Well, he picked up the spatula and wock! into my hair it went. I was enraged, and laughing, and picked up the whole bowl, ready to toss it - and off he went, scampering out the back door like a naughty child - and I took off after him, round and round the house we went till we collapsed back in the kitchen, calling a truce due to the horrible heat. 
I love how silly my dad is. 

5. Mind Your Manners. 
Do you know phone manners? I mean, when you pick up, what do you say? I'll tell you what - I had the BEST phone manners and message taking abilities of any of my friends growing up because my dad taught me: 

"Hello Rogers residence." 
(yes is david there) 
"May I ask who's calling please?" 
(wonky wonk wonk) 
"Just a moment please, I'll check" ...then check with Dad to see if he wants to talk to WWW, then back to the phone...
"I'm so sorry, he can't come to the phone right now. May I take a message? and how do you spell that? And just to make sure, the number is 123-456? Alright, I'll give him the message. Thank you." 


6. Be Kind.
My Dad is unfailingly kind. Actually, it gets on my mom and I's nerves a lot. Because he's so nice. All the time. My dad is like a throwback to the 1950s; he's so exaggeratedly nice you think he's being sarcastic! But he's not. He's just that nice. 

7. Be Gentle
While my father is kind, he is also gentle. That means that in his approach to certain subjects, delicate subjects, he never demanded answers or even a conversation - he would invite, leave the door open, let me know he was willing to talk about it if I wanted. His gentleness in dealing with me and my feelings has been such a blessing many times, when I felt lonely and knew I could turn to him.

I think we look alike! I have his blue eyes...and now so does Zuzu!

8. Look for the Good.
My father always sees the good in other people, and always gives them the benefit of the doubt. Always. I want to complain about people and what jerks they are - I want someone to commiserate with me! But not dad. Dad doesn't do that; he acknowledges there's a problem, but then quickly moves to explore the reason behind that problem or how we can love the person more. Boy, that Christlike attitude is annoying!! :) 

9. Try, Try Again. 
Like I said, my parents marriage wasn't always the best. At one point or another, one or both of my parents wanted out. They were rough years. But once my parents realized they did want to save their marriage, my father worked hard. I mean, really hard! It is hard work to change yourself after a lifetime of being one way - hard to undue patterns of thought, speak, and action that you realize are hurting people or are unhealthy for your marriage. It takes humility and well, he failed a lot. 
But he didn't give up. The person my dad is today is different in some very key ways from the man I grew up with, because he wanted to be better for  his family. That dedication to keep working even after failure stirs my heart - I think I would just have given up.

Wedding montage...

10. Marriage is Forever. 
I mentioned this with my mom too, but it takes two to tango...my parents could have divorced. Lots of people do. What the heck? They weren't happy. Us kids were even saying - divorce! You're miserable! We're miserable! 
But my dad stayed. My dad stayed and did the hard work and worked his butt off to show us that marriage is worth it. And while he worked hard to show love to me and my siblings, he really worked hard to show love to my mom. My parents love is beautiful - I adore their rhythm, their obvious comfort with and adoration of one another. Their affection and consideration of one another is truly Christlike and it constantly challenges me to love my husband like they love one another. What a gift! A gift to me, to their family, to the world - to show that love conquers all. 

11. Say It. 
Not all dads are big on words and there's nothing wrong with that. But my dad is - from the very beginning of my hazy memories, the words I hear loping out of the mist are "I sure do love you, Martha J." That combination and its attendant rhythm are burned in my brain. He said it all the time. All the time. It annoyed me as a teenager; why does he say "I sure do love you," I'd think. Why can't he just say "love you"?? I don't know why he chose that...but it's now the language I use in my own family, so much so that now I catch Mr. Oram using it too. There's something sweet and homey about adding that "sure" in there and then the child's middle name or middle initial. 
What a blessing that the words I remember most are words of love. 

12. Follow the Leader.
Part of the beauty of my parents marriage is my parents' mutual dedication to one another's interests. My dad is a great supporter of my mom's running and my mom encourages my dad's love of history. This respect flows naturally from their recognition that if the other one loves something, it must be because that something is good in some way - and they often strive to see that good as much as possible. 
Nowhere was that as apparent as when my dad followed my mom into the Catholic Church. When my mom started attending the local parish, my father at first let her go alone...but then started going with her. Soon he was going every Sunday. Dad isn't as bookish as mom, or as theologically inclined, but just by going and seeing what the Church is, he was falling in love. He came into the church several years after she did and he did it entirely out of love - love for the Church, yes, but also love for my mother - he knew that wherever she went, he wanted to follow. 

13. He Never Went to College. 
My dad was bright. He did well in high school, was in Latin club, pretty popular guy. But coming from  a working class home and having an eye on the construction business, Dad decided against college. What is looked on as a suicidal career move now has paid off because my dad has incredible skill and a great work ethic. Now the owner of a very successful business, my dad has skills that are not taught at any institute of higher education. He's amazing.

14. You Get What You Ask For.
A great memory of my childhood is Dad drinking Moosehead beer. I'd walk up and boldly declare "I want some beer!" He'd arch an eyebrow and say "oookay," dutifully handing me the green bottle. I'd take the veeeery tiniest of sips and then cry "YUCK! How can you drink that stuff??"...then saunter away. 
I often wonder how easily that could have turned into a toddler tantrum or even just a rebuff. "No, absolutely not, beer is for adults" or "No, go away - I'm talking to my friends." 

15. Put your money where your mouth is.
My dad didn't just talk about me wanting to go to college - he helped me get there. My dad didn't only encourage me in my faith, he sent me on a pilgrimage to France. When my dad supports something, he REALLY supports it - he's willing to help you get there if he can, whatever the goal. In an age where most people just give lip service to 'being supportive,' my dad exemplifies being in your corner however he can. 

16. Pray. 
I never thought this would be on a list about my dad - because we weren't religious, y'know? But here he is...my dad. And he prays. I know he prays. He's made prayer part of his day, and he's not embarrassed about that. Sometimes one of my nieces will ask to accompany him on a walk and he'll politely say, "Well my walks are my prayer time, so you can't come, but I'll see you when I get back."

Dad and my niece, Livvy, as a toddler

17. Nursing is Important. 
I will NEVER forget the weekend that Zuzu was first here and my dad is sitting at the table saying "now, you know, she'll want to  nurse a lot, but it's important you nurse her whenever she needs to, because you're establishing supply..." WHAT. What man says that, to his daughter??? 
My dad! Also the man who calmly sits next to me on the couch as I nurse his grandchild without a cover; he is perfectly comfortable, neither avoiding looking at me or looking too much. To him, breastfeeding is perfectly natural. His attitude has helped me feel so supported as a new mom, and has been a great example to Mr. O about how to treat nursing mothers.

The kneeler we used at our wedding - my daddy made it!

18. Generosity. 
Short of cash? My dad will spot you. Need a lift home? He'll stop when he sees you walking on the side of the road. Need a place to live? A pep talk? A meal, a hand, someone to help you move, a home for your pet, a job for your teenage son? My dad will step in and offer. There is no need too great or too small for my father to try to help - he believes every need that is set before him is God asking him to help, and he responds so generously. If God the Father is extravagant in his love and overwhelmingly mind-blowingly generous, then my dad is an amazing physical example of that reality. I don't know anyone as willing to help people...except maybe for my own husband (a quality that drew me to him like a tractor beam).

19. Evangelize. 
Sometimes new Catholics are obnoxious; I understand - I was one. I was annoying. I'm sure I still am. But my dad isn't. He has maintained a true humility while still - get this - really inviting those around him to know Jesus. He invites everyone - everyone! - to come to Mass with him. No? Okay, maybe next time. Mass, parish events, confession - he invites anyone who is around him to come. When a friend/coworker expressed reluctance about going to confession, my dad offered to ask the priest to come to work so it wouldn't be as intimidating. 
That's truly desiring peace in people's hearts. 

20. Hard Work. 
I don't know anyone that works as hard as my dad. I mean that. My dad works seven days a week. He built a business from the ground up. He takes calls anytime - except during Mass. I learned a great work ethic and commitment to excellence from my Father. If it is made by my dad, he will stand behind it - it will be right or he'll work till it is. I don't know many companies or people like that these days. I strive to give myself fully to my work every day as he does.

All this to say...God knew what he was doing when he sent me to my Daddy. And I am so grateful.

My dad and brother made this for me - on the other side it says "Bama Law." They're amazing.

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