It’s his birthday today….I will not get to celebrate it as I had done in the past; he died a few months ago. Each new year celebration had been my reminder that his birthday was approaching. I was always grateful for the longevity gene in this family and would then wonder what an 80+ year old person needs/wants for a birthday gift. Would it be a Chicken Soup book, chewable dark chocolate, a historical novel? I would send a card and sometimes a gift, but would always have a phone conversation with him on his birthday. It usually involved what’s the latest there with him and here with me, and my latest home building/maintenance questions?
When younger, my family traveled with the wood-paneled station wagon pulling a trailer. There were skills gained during those adventures that translated to much of my success while camping, backpacking or traveling the world and needing to know how to feel comfortable in new situations. Even though my Dad taught Industrial Arts to male students, because that was the day when only boys had that class, my Dad taught his 4 girls how to use a saw, hammer, screwdriver, etc and it was no surprise to me to see my siblings all have a strong science background.
My Dad helped me with every apartment and house repair, even showing up at times to lend a hand with the actual job or providing me insight to solve concerns. We once put a bay window into an Adirondack shack I owned and built an outhouse there! We painted rooms at a rental property, and gutted and rebuilt an entire kitchen at another house. (Although when I left for work one day, I returned home to discover every exterior window with repainted shutters, RED ones! He was convinced they sold the house.)
I will miss his conversations and help as I currently work on a new home construction. Of course he would say, there would be little to do with new construction! Yet he had discovered that would not be true, since we did have a project list for him at our last new home.
This year I dedicate all volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity to my Dad. I have his hammer, his work ethic, and his joy and love of creating something constructive with and for other people, no matter who they are. While I will always miss my Dad, this can be a good year! My heart will be with his hammer and we will work as one. Build on!