Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015


My dad was a remarkable man. For much of my early life, he worked for a company called General Dynamics, a defense contractor which was involved with the U.S. missile defense program and with the production of military aircraft. While dad worked for GDA we lived in Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kansas again, then back to Iowa. Dad decided that he wanted more stability for the family, so he took a job with Trans World Airlines in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved the family there in 1967.

In addition to his day job training and supervising airplane maintenance crews for TWA, he spent time teaching ground school and giving flying lessons (in his own plane; he was a lifelong member of AOPA), working as police officer and EMT for a local suburban community, and taught police pistol combat (PPC) courses and directed shooting competitions for law enforcement officers. (He won more than a few trophies in those competitions himself.) He was a lifelong member of the NRA, too.

He was an avid reader, both fiction and nonfiction, and encouraged his kids to be readers also. He was an amateur musician (clarinet and saxophone), owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles for much of his life, and had a fondness for powerful cars (Mopar in particular). He taught himself leather-working so that he could make his own gun belts and holsters.

He was a fan of westerns (movies and TV both), war movies, and cop/detective shows. He also had a fondness for video games (we had both an Intellivision system and, later, a Nintendo NES built into a portable TV). He wasn't much of a sports fan, though...

He was a kind and generous man. He had an impatience for bureaucracy, and he did not suffer fools gladly. He struggled at times with his temper, but with mom's help he'd usually get over those outbursts quickly, and with a laugh. He had an impish sense of humor, and an infectious laugh. He was sentimental, too, but he gave few outward signs of it.

He was a proud man, and devoted to his family. He was also active in his parish, St. Charles Borromeo, for nearly 40 years.

I know my dad was proud that I became a teacher, and I was happy to provide him his first grandchild. He survived diabetes and prostate cancer. It took a combination of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to finally defeat him.

I have tried to live my life by the principles he taught me, and of course I loved him beyond all measure. I miss him every day.

Requiescat in pace, dad...

The Sound of Music

As I have mentioned, my love of music comes from my parents. Records or the radio were playing almost constantly in my house when I was growing up, and dad played a couple of different musical instruments (although not well).

The earliest memory I have of a conflict between mom and dad was when dad splurged on an expensive Voice of Music stereo system. Mom thought it was an extravagence, but dad's argument was that if we were going to listen to music, we should hear it properly. It wasn't a big fight, and mom eventually came to love that stereo as much as dad did.

Our system looked just like the one on the left, except Dad got the blond finish. We also had the satellite "stereo" module that was a slightly smaller version of this unit, only without the record changer inside. This is part of what my mom thought was wasteful, as not that many records in those days were produced in stereo. As was often the case, dad was ahead of the technology curve, and once stereo records became the norm the wisdom of his choice was clear...

New record albums were a regular feature of life in my house growing up, and when I became old enough I was allowed to play my records, too (mostly 45 rpm singles, of course).

Things That Make Me Happy: Comeback Edition

Last night my beloved Kansas City Royals spotted the Boston Red an early lead at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals trailed 4-1 when they came to bat in the bottom of the 5th inning, but before that inning ended they had taken a 6-4 lead, en route to an eventual 7-4 final score. The decisive blow came from the bat of Designated Hitter Kendry Morales, who hit a two-run home run to give the Royals a lead they would never relinquish.
The series concludes this afternoon with Chris Young seeking to tie Edinson Volquez for the team lead in victories (Edinson improved his record to 7-4, 3.33 ERA last night)...

"Chris has been the team's best starting pitcher this year, hasn't he?"
Overall, yes, he has been. We need another good outing from him today...

Until Next Time...

My mom and dad had different tastes in music, but one of the valuable lessons I learned from them was to be able to appreciate music in just about every genre. Between them, my mom and dad liked pretty much every kind of music except opera...

One of the fondest memories I have is of watching my parents dance to romantic music playing on the stereo. And one song they danced to often was one dad also spent years trying to master on his clarinet. I never heard her say so, but I think this song, today's send-off music, was her favorite. I know she and dad danced to it many, many times. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Acker Bilk. Enjoy...

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