By: Kristin Petty
My dad is a man of few words, so at first I thought I would honor him by composing a haiku. Not just an ordinary haiku, mind you --- one with a tremendous amount of thought put into it. I figured it would be a powerful homage. But who knew those cute little poems we wrote in elementary school could be so difficult? Putting 42 years worth of influence into seventeen syllables just wasn’t going to cut it. And believe me, I tried. So what follows is an attempt to be succinct, but can actually be considered the Longest Father’s Day Haiku Ever.
My earliest memories are of him taking me fishing, to his office, coaching me, playing tennis and soccer with me, going on bike rides...just being there. All. The. Time.
He never missed one of my soccer games until I played in college. Even then, if his job and travel would have allowed, he wouldn’t have missed any of those either.
When I tore my ACL in high school and had to wear a large, bulky knee brace as I continued my soccer career, my mom told me he cried. I never knew this until much later. What I did know is the day I put it on for the first time, he went out to the rocky field behind our house and kicked the soccer ball with me for a long, long time.
The week before I got married, I laid in bed more than once and cried my eyes out because the thought of him “giving me away” was simply unbearable.
When I had my first daughter (his first grandchild), he came over every single night for weeks, actually months, after she was born...just to hold and look at her for 30 minutes or so. I think he would possibly still do that to this day, if 14-year-olds didn’t think that was weird.
His sons-in-law have dubbed him “Closet Fun Guy” and “Billy Magic” because those who don’t know him well would most likely never guess they were in the presence of one of the funniest guys in the room. Many a pants-wetting by my mom, my sister, or myself can be traced back to something he started.
He can build, sew or fix anything. And if you have a difficult math problem to figure out? He’s your guy.
When I went through a terrifying health scare and surgery a couple of years ago, he never really said a word about it. But when we moved into our new house three days later, he stayed for almost a week, doing anything and everything he could...placing furniture, hanging pictures, you name it. When he finally left, I shut the front door and cried like I had just lost my best friend.
Now with four granddaughters, he goes to every single school and sports activity that he possibly can. Other parents love it, and the common sentiment is, “That’s so cool.” And they’re right, although cool is a bit of an understatement. He’s one-of-a-kind. Irreplaceable. And he’s all mine.
* * *
When I was very young, my family went over to spend Christmas Day with my mother's side of the family. It was another brutal Nebraska winter, and somehow they had managed to run out of beer. I don't always think of beer as a Christmas staple, but apparently at this time and with these folks, it was.
Rich, my dad, volunteered (or was volunteered) to go out and collect some of the precious beverage so that the party could continue. He left, and was gone for hours. As time went by, people first grew impatient, then angry, then very, very worried. This was before cell phones, and no one knew how to get a hold of Rich.
When he finally showed up, he was confronted with a lot of understandable questions. He calmly explained that he had seen a homeless man, and had picked him up and taken him to share a Christmas dinner. As it was very cold, he then drove the man to a hotel and paid for a room for him for the night.
Everybody grew quiet. They had been so upset Rich had not gone and completed his "mission." But he had just gone out and quietly done what Christmas was all about.
That's my dad, and I'm so proud of him.
Check out Kathy's Father's Day post on Her View From Home/Kissing the Frog.