Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remembering My Dad on Father's Day

Was It Only a Dream?

My earliest memory of my dad is the two of us walking hand-in-hand at the Zoo. I was probably two or three years old, toddling along on short little legs at my dad’s left side. And, in that image I see another hand holding his on the right—a chimpanzee. Did this really happen? I have no idea. Perhaps it was just a dream, but it seems very real to me, and it testifies to the loving person who was my daddy.
Ever patient; ever kind; ever loving--that was my Daddy.

Let's Start at the Beginning

To everyone else he was known as Roy, the third of four surviving children of Frederick and Elizabeth. The family of six might have been a family of ten if not for the high mortality rates of that time. Daddy told the story of his birth in this way:
"In 1906 babies were usually born at home, and my birth was no exception. Mum was a tiny woman, less than 5 feet tall and I was a large baby. It was a difficult birth, and I emerged limp and lifeless. The doctor placed me on a table and covered me with a sheet. As he turned to attend to my mother, the next door neighbor arrived. 'Where is the baby?' she inquired. 'Sadly, the baby did not survive' replied the doctor. The neighbor lifted the sheet, touched the little body and felt movement. 'That baby’s alive you damned fool!' With that, she wrapped me in a blanket and tucked me next to Mum where I was warmed and loved back to life.”
So, let me tell you about my Daddy.

He Had a Sense of Adventure

With such a perilous near-miss entry into this world, perhaps it was destined that Roy would have a keen sense of adventure.
At the age of 15 he left family and education behind and became a seafarer, working for the Alaska Steamship Company. Although he was short in stature, he was strong and well built and was able to lie about his age.
He worked on the steamship Wapama which traveled the west coast of the Unites States from Seattle, Washington to San Francisco, California.The Wapama is considered a historical ship and is stored at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.
The Wapama
A wooden-hulled steamer designed for the coastal lumber trade, the Wapama is unique to the West Coast. Built in 1915, she was the last of 235 steam schooners, operating between Washington and California.
The long shallow hulls of steam schooners made for a weak structure, prone to sag at the bow and stern. As age and decay sapped the strength of Wapama’s massive timbers, this “hogging” process became so bad that she could not remain afloat.
 
Placed on a barge in 1980 the Wapama remains a unique and impressive piece of naval architecture. Given suitable systems for rot control, physical support, and weather protection, it will be possible to preserve Wapama indefinitely out of the water.


And a Love of Family

How many years did Roy sail on the Wapama? We have no way of knowing, But what we do know is this; in 1930 he was no longer at sea. With legs firmly planted on the ground, he married and started a family. He and his wife Helen had two children--a daughter Carol and a son Lee.
Defiance Lumber Mill - The Doud brothers of Buckley purchased 18 acres of land on the Tacoma waterfront in 1906. By 1907 a mill was erected on the 1400 feet of shoreline and 150 men were employed. Ships from all nations visited Tacoma to load lumber.
Source: Tacoma Public Library archives


He Had a Strong Work Ethic

Roy worked at the Point Defiance Lumber Mill, at a time when so many were much less fortunate. Despite the long hours and strenuous physical labor, he considered himself to be very blessed indeed. Our Nation was in the midst of the Great Depression, and unlike many others, Roy had a job.

He Didn't Let Defeat Define Him

An accident at the mill forced Roy out of work for months. Sadly, his long convalescence was too much of a strain on the marriage—Helen fell in love with another man, and Roy found himself without a family.
The lumber mill injury left Roy with one leg shorter than the other and unable to stand for long periods of time. His work at the mill was a thing of the past.
And he was alone.
Someone else might have given up, but for Roy quitting was not an option. He found a job that would allow him to move about yet remain off of his feet for most of the day. He began driving a delivery truck for Supreme Cleaners--a truly life-changing decision.


Supreme Cleaners at 1012 Center St. Their slogan was "the cleanest linen on the face of the Earth." The laundry industry in Tacoma grew during World War II and continued to grow during the post war era. They offered union jobs and employment security
It was there that he met Betty—a tall auburn-haired single mother of three.
A wise person once said
“It takes a strong man to accept somebody else’s children and step up to the plate another man left on the table.”
Roy was disabled, but he was the strongest of men. He loved Betty, and he also loved her children as much as his own flesh and blood. Roy and Betty married in April 1948. And four years later, in their mid-40’s, Roy and Betty added one more to their blended family. I was born.

The Best "Life" Teacher

For 29 years Daddy was my cheerleader, my mentor, and my shining example.
He taught me how to hammer a nail and change a tire. He taught me how to mow a lawn and cook a pot roast. It was Daddy who taught me how to dig for clams, tie a necktie, and iron a pair of slacks. He taught me how to parallel park and drive a stick shift. He taught me to love baseball.
Daddy gave to me the love of kitties--and of all living things.
He taught me patience. He taught me how to pray. He taught me how to love someone even when they aren't being very likable.
I am so thankful that he taught me to be a little bit like him.

Blessings in the Midst of Adversity

Bad things happened to a good person—there was a time when Daddy lost his way of life and he lost his family. But one thing he never lost was his faith.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
If not for his injury, he would not have sought a new job; he would not have found a family who needed him (and whom he needed as well).

He Lead Me to a New Chapter in Life

When he was 75 years of age, Daddy walked me down the aisle. Tears of joy misted his eyes, and he placed my hand into the hand of the man who has stood by my side for 36 years.
On the day that my husband and I returned from our honeymoon, I saw Daddy. He looked tired; I expressed my concern. "It's OK" he replied. "My back is just a little sore. Don't worry. I'll be fine tomorrow."
And he was right. That evening Daddy had an aneurysm and was taken from us in an instant. He awoke in Heaven, where all of his old-age aches and sawmill injuries are a thing of the past.
The limp is gone.

What Did I Learn From My Father?

ADVENTURE

Don’t be afraid of adventure. Explore. Take risks. Attempt new things.
” If you try you might lose, but if you never try you will certainly never win.”

LOVE

“God is Number One, friends and family are Number Two. Making yourself Number Three makes you a winner.”

WORK HARD

“Do everything as though you were signing your name to it.”

AND NEVER GIVE UP.


Thank you Daddy, for being such a perfect example. Thank you for being such a wonderful YOU.

4 comments:

  1. I'll just wipe the tears out of my eyes and get on with my day now. :) Thank you for sharing your father with us. Reminds me of someone else I knew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill your Dad and mine are sharing stories with each other in Heaven as I write--of this I am sure. They were cut of the same cloth. You and I are very blessed.

      Delete
  2. What a wonderful father you still have in your heart. Aren't we blessed to be around this age so that we were raised by the fine fine men of that generation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eric, I agree. That generation was selfless, the Greatest Generation.

      Delete