Intermediate Composition
25 Sept 1997


my dad

 

“It just doesn’t get any better than this.” Most people would not like to admit that that phrase reminds them of their father, but I do for one reason. It makes me smile to think of him relaxing with a cold one because of the hard work he does to have them sit in the downstairs fridge. I don’t think I would have lived in the house I did or have the car I do now if my dad didn’t work his exhausting job. He is a construction worker. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him if it wasn’t for the dark rugged skin that wrinkles across his face and arms. He is small compared to his colleagues. At a mere five foot nine and at 160 pounds those machines could toss him around like baby sunfish. He has all these long hours under his small gut and yet fails to complain about it like I would. Why he does this for us I will never know.


The money aspect of his life is of no worry to him. He knows he has enough and it shows as we shop for groceries. Mom is the one pulling out coupons, he, the one buying five different kinds of Little Debbie snacks for his lunch box. But when it comes to clothing, his jeans are of another matter. The patches he puts in them are of no fashion but are of great quality and productivity. And as for shopping, of all the places on earth to spend a day looking at items, his is Menards and Fleet Farm by far. Tools are my dad’s best friend.


He now shows signs of growing unfortunately old with odd back problems and constant chiropractic visits. A person who I once believed invincible to decay as he pulled us zooming through snowbanks or making his famous banana bread recipe. Even after those nights of Monopoly that Mom refused to play because we got so competitive (she lost all the time or claimed to lose all the time- some people just can’t handle the pressure) he would still be up at five, six, or seven a.m. ready to snowplow the white streets of Wahpeton or lay cement for a new apartment building. He would then return every night either late after a cocktail with other fellows in dirty bibs or early in time for dinner to tell us to do good in school even though he almost failed fourth grade. The winters, when he was laid off, were great when dad had his delicious brownies for us to come home to but also bad when he’d force us into doing chores (he taught me how to do laundry). Dad was occasionally goofy with us stepping on our feet as we watched television or pinning us down to tickle us for a year. Like a father, projects pile up and become his middle name. He has structured our deck and redone each room in the house at least seven times always wanting more outlets.


Vacations and holidays were spent at either families place but his side was the biggest and more laid back. Grandpa, his dad, would shake the presents to tease us and his mother had baked food and deserts bound to make you fat. His siblings, once silly and having drank or not, had many stories on each other, enough to make Grandma blush with unknowingness. Like the one about him bringing beer to sell at his prom instead of going in to actually dance, the girl he had had a crush on, and the lies they told to go drag racing in town and then stopping at the basketball game to have a score for their parents to believe before reversing the car home to lower the mileage.


He entered the army after high school and all he ever mentions relating to that was that he found out many secrets that would cause him to have to kill you if he told you and some important German phrases (how much? I'll have a beer? ain’t she cute!) that he still remembers and shouts at us to make us fearful, as if we weren’t already.
My parents met at a party of an acquaintance of both. He had brought some imported beer (or just liquor period)to share and she was the major share- ee of the night. Three months later he proposed and I was on the way too. He was initiated into the my mom’s family through a bar date with my mom’s dad and my uncle Roger who drank both of them probably under the table that night. He is a funny dancer now so I wonder what his two-step was like then. The pictures show a very young long-haired hippie-looking boy with a equally young curvaceous blonde who was practically in a convent before she met him. One photo has him with all the older ladies, friends of my grandmother I assume, all giggling about. He must have been quite a hit.


Dad is a firm believer in Old Milwaukee beer as well as the Twins, Vikings, and the fact that money will never grow on trees and if it ever does he will shave of the gray scratchy beard he’s had since he was born. He drives each one of us kids personally nuts with phrases we could be rich with if we had a quarter every time he said them. From “I’ll kick you into next week.” (that would be interesting and we’d be on t.v. for sure if he actually could and incidentally my brother has commented cheerfully that that meant he’d miss his geography test- this smart remark met up with my father’s perfected “look”), “We’ll see.” which sometimes comes out sounding more like a type of fabric a sheep farmer would talk of, and my favorite “Jesus Martha.” for the moments when a hammer would meet his thumb. Sometimes these fits of rage would carry away his thinking power and jumbles of words would pour out such as-”HOW MANY CHAIRS DOES A LEG HAVE!?”


Our personal relationship has had its ups and deep crevices. I grew up as a tomboy (part of me still is) and I find nothing wrong with it but I am sure it came mostly from my dad’s influence. He and I, I think have the same “I am the oldest” responsibility trait as well as other close characteristics. Along with having his “sad” gray-green-blue eyes comes the difficulty of our stubbornness. I could always see his point but he had to see mine, which at my younger ages, just wouldn’t have been heard of. I can remember the fight we had over the fourth of July one summer. I had to illustrate my point but I had already failed in their eyes with my stupidity (which always got me into trouble). I also felt guilty for not having made it into the architecture program here (at NDSU). I thought I had let them down. I hadn’t Dad said as he hugged me and asked me to stay the night and not run off in a state which he felt would not be good to drive in. I went into architecture when I first came here to college because I wanted to be like him and construct and create. Now when I call or when they call he wants to make sure I am okay but most of all- If the automobile is still running and isn’t out of oil. I gave him, and my mom, a scare last February when I had a fight with a snowbank going 70 mph. They somehow made a two hour trip in one hour after my father about had a heart attack on the phone as I tried to tell him that I WAS JUST FINE.


Sometimes it is hard to believe that he and my mom still love me even after all the horrible teenage things I did to them. There are certain things I wish I had taken back, or should have said to tell them why I did it. Somehow they forgive you and you have to forgive them because if it weren’t for them you wouldn’t be typing your composition paper on them just to remember everything they taught you or said to made you laugh or didn’t do to make you cry.


I can still remember the scent of his cologne walking down the stairs before he and mom would go out, the feeling of his hug the night they found out how depressed I was and he said he had felt that way too, but I will never forget the day I graduated and he held me and said that he loved me. It felt good and strong and I knew I was going to be alright. Four kids, twenty one married to mom years, and forty million sunburns later he is still working in Wahpeton at Kost Brothers and living with my cat named Lassie, his own work shed and his 1952 Chevy truck. He has what he told himself he had always wanted. A stable job, some crazy kids, and and house that he will never be cold in “cuz HE SAYS SO.”