Are there things about your dad that drive you crazy?! Well, my Dad is a polymer Chemist, a PhD, an inventor who holds many patents and truly enjoys molecules. I like them too; I just don’t care to get too intimate. My senior year I took chemistry, the basic chemistry class. I choose AP biology and loved learning about animals and plants—things I could see and touch—but chemistry was just a requirement. There were many times when this requirement was confusing so at first I went to my dad the chemist with questions. You can surmise what happened; he would pull out charts and graphs and relate this page of homework to the real world explaining in the minutest of details how the world works. He would talk to me like I was trying to write my graduate thesis. I just wanted to know the answer to number five. I just wanted to finish and go watch an Elvis Presley movie on PBS. My dad’s homework help drove me nuts.
Still there were and are things about my dad that I adore. When I was a little kid he would let me lay my head on his lap in church, and he would play with my hair and scratch my ears like I was a little puppy. It was one of my favorite times of the week. I learned about faith and worship as I sat with my dad each Sunday.
He took us camping for weeks at a time. He taught us how to set up tents and even create a little tent village complete with carpet and a giant tarp to keep out New York’s summer deludes. We hiked and canoed and learned how to cook outdoors. One year we all got cross-country skis for Christmas and he let us loose to explore. He bought a tractor and tilled up the land to make a giant garden. That garden and I had a love-hate relationship. All the work in the hot humid summer was torture; I confess to pulling up a few bean plants each week thinking, “I won’t ever have to pick this one again.” But when the work was done, I loved to “runaway” and live off fresh raspberries, strawberries, and crunchy pea pods. He taught us how to grow things and live in the wilderness.
When I entered the dating years he did his best to scare the boys away. On one occasion when he had decided I was sitting in the car with my date for too many minutes, he walked out with his shot gun because “he thought he heard a raccoon”. I quickly said goodnight and hurried inside. Dads don’t just do things like that in the movies. He gave me careful dating instructions: be home on time, be respectable, and don’t neck. I never really knew what he meant; necking is not what you did in the ‘80s. Still, I knew he cared. I also knew that if I got in trouble with Mom, Dad would show mercy and try to get my sentence reduced.
My dad worked hard Monday through Friday. Saturday was his day to stay home and putter around the house and yard. Most Saturday mornings greeted us with one of Dad’s amazingly fluffy omelets. The Saturday omelet was his domain. I had forgotten how perfect his omelets were until this past Thanksgiving when we gathered at his home, five of his seven children and twenty-eight of his now thirty-four grandchildren, and he cooked up his trademark omelets. We feasted!
I honor you, Dad, for putting up with us, for loving us, for teaching us, and for being a wonderful example of fatherhood.
By the way thanks for the A in chemistry. I love you!