Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day! While Father’s Day (Vatertag) is usually celebrated in June in the U.S., May 1st is when it was celebrated in Germany this year. I thought that I would dedicate this post to my father, John Heron.

This year Father’s Day in Germany happens to fall on May 1st. May 1st is also a national holiday celebrated across much of Europe, sometimes called “May Day” and/or “International Workers’ Day”. The observance of Father’s Day in Germany changes yearly dependent upon when Easter occurs because Father’s Day is celebrated at the same time as Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt). This year all of these things came together.

When most of us look at who we are today, a lot of us will immediately give credit to our mothers. Our mothers did an awful lot of us but we should not overlook dear ole dad. While mom might be the glue that holds the family together, the chief care giver (administering band aids and other medicinal remedies when we need them), and a whole slew of other important (and often unglamorous and unrecognised roles) our father’s were the backbone of the family and often the disciplinarians.

When you look at all the kids growing up today in single parent homes or coming from divorces, I realize that I was very fortunate to have a father that was around. A lot of fathers today aren’t really involved in their kids lives and you can see that there is a definite lack of a male role model with many kids growing up today. My dad was there and for that I’m grateful.

Here are some things that he has accomplished in his life or that he should be credited for…

  • He quit school to raise his younger brother and sister when his father passed away. While many people have done similar things in their lives, you don’t have to look too far to see cases where people wouldn’t have made such a sacrifice.
  • He later received his GED (High School Equivalent degree). While he quit school for one of the “right” reasons, he went to the trouble of getting his GED. You have to admire to adults that go back to get there GED. Many of whom when they were younger didn’t realize the value of an education or circumstances didn’t allow them to finish high school!
  • He ran his own business delivering milk to residential homes and businesses (this is how he met my mother). He started out working for someone else and then bought the route. Running his own business helped give him some skills and attitudes that have served him well in life.
  • When he saw that the writing on the wall about the milk delivery business drying up, he became a plumber. He didn’t cry over spilled milk, but moved forward and started working in a new profession. Mom helped him study and ultimately pass the exam and his certification.
  • He was willing to work on the other side of the state or in another state, in order to provide for his family.
  • He taught himself about the stock market and managed to put together a nice retirement within a relatively short period to time.
  • He and my mother wanted us kids to have the chance to grow up outside of the city. They bought a house in the Ortonville, Michigan area. They owned that house for almost 20 years. My dad was born and raised in Detroit, so he wanted to show his family something other than city life. Prior to Ortonville, we had lived in Livonia, a suburb of Detroit.
  • He spent countless hours trying to keep that old Ford tractor running so that he could mow the lawn or whatever else that he needed to do. Because we lived on a good size piece of property when we lived in the Ortonville area, he had to mow a couple of acres with a tractor, because a push mower would never have finished the job. He also used the tractor to clear the drive way of snow and to maintain the gravel driveway that we had (especially after a lot of rain had shifted things around).
  • He was one of six bothers and three sisters, so I think that he passed on some of his big family ways to us. He used to say things like, “he who eats the fastest gets the mostest”, being silly, but if you didn’t eat quickly in the house that he grew up in, your portions would have been greatly reduced.
  • He gave me a love of music. He is a far better singer than I am, but he has all sorts of music trivia that he seems to have passed on to me. Much of the music that I like can be attributed to his interest in the Beatles, Motown, and so on.
  • He is proud of his Scottish heritage. He parents came over from Scotland and even came from the same town. I was fortunate enough to take a trip with him and my Aunt Betty to Scotland last year. It is a trip full of memories that I won’t forget! My sisters and I used to love to hear him sing the Scottish songs that he new (I still love to hear him sing them).
  • He encouraged all of us to get a college education. My sister Heather learned the skilled trade of being a wood model maker and my sister Nicole did get an Associates Degree in medical billing, and I graduated from the University of North Texas, so we all did this to varying degrees (pun not intended)
  • He taught all of us how to drive a car (and a manual transmission no less)! While we all had the driver’s education classes that were offered at our local high school, it was dad that took us all out in the car for the practice that we needed and where we really learned the mechanics of driving. The driver’s ed class only had automatic transmissions, so we all learned how to drive a stick from him.
  • He showed mom a great deal of respect and you could tell that she was the love of his life.
  • He has demonstrated that there is life after retirement. He always enjoyed his work and thought that he wouldn’t be able to retire, but he has found that he enjoys himself and has been able to travels a lot. Since I moved to Germany he has been here three times.
  • He is optimistic, always looking at the bright side of things.
  • He has perseverance. Michigan’s economy has always been boom or bust. Things tend to go well when the auto industry does well and badly when the auto industry is down. These boom and but cycles really affected the skilled trades (including plumbers) but he always managed to find a job. Looking back, he probably took some jobs that didn’t really excite him, but you never heard him complain about any of the jobs. He did eventually get a job with General Motors, where he was able to work at for several years before retiring.
  • Since my mother passed away in 2001, he has had to take over some of her roles in the family. My sisters and I were all grown, so it isn’t like he had to be both parents for us as we were growing up, but families continue after the kids are grown (sometimes they might not be fully functional but life goes on). Sometimes he will do things with the grandkids to help out my sisters. Of course he doesn’t do things the way that mom would or did, but then nobody else can ever be mom.
  • He moved back to Michigan to be near his family. I think that Michigan has always been in my dad’s heart, so I was surprised that mom was able to talk him into moving to the warmer climate of Las Vegas. They both loved it out there. After age and health seemed to have caught up to his siblings and two of his brothers passed away, he decided that he wanted to be nearer to his family back in Michigan, so he sold his place in Vegas. He seems to have sold that house at a good time, because the market has dropped in Vegas since then.
  • This year he and a friend decided to go to Florida to experience baseball’s spring training. They watched a few games. When I heard about this I was reminded of those fantasy baseball camps that some people go to. I thought that he must have had a ball.
  • He joined the “70” club. In March he became the 7th of his siblings to turn 70. When I see the lifestyle that he leads, I can’t really imagine him being 70.
  • In October, 2007 he had a heart attack and by-pass surgery. We were all surprised that he had a heart attack since he has led an active and mostly healthy lifestyle. He has been more active and concerned about his diet than most people his age. We were all relieved that he made it through the surgery alright and he recovered very well.

I have posted a picture of my dad holding me by his old milk truck in addition to a collage that I did of pictures from our trip to Paris in 2007. I feel most fortunate to have had dad as my dad! Maybe you can take some time out to let you dad know how much you care about him and thank him for some of those things that he did for you. For those of you celebrating Father’s Day later in the year, you still have time to do something nice for your dad, and even if your Father’s Day already passed, I’m sure that he would appreciate your thoughts and gestures later on as well! Has you father been there for you too? Do you have some fond memories of your father? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

I recently posted an article about 100 posts at the DC Heron Family blog, feel free to check it out.

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

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