I enter Lowe’s or Home Depot and the scent of freshly hewn lumber transports me to a time gone by.
I’m once again 8 years old, it’s early Saturday morning and I am excited to be with my father at the
lumberyard back home. I was his weekend shadow, following him as he ran errands, built things in the
garage, worked in the garden and completed projects inside the house. It was exciting to ride in the
pick-up, go to the dump (it’s still a thrill) or hand him tools.
From Dad I learned to mix and pour concrete, transplant flowers, patch and paint. He encouraged, corrected and sometimes played games with me. From Dad I learned that time, like money, is a resource to be used productively. That if I faced a problem, I needed to solve it. And from Dad I learned that dedication to family is most important.
Most of all, I knew that he deeply loved my mother. From his affection towards her to his care as her
Alzheimer’s progressed, he treated her well. He shampooed and combed her hair when she no longer
could. He cooked the meals – and then spoon-fed them to her. He painted her fingernails because she
was still beautiful. He was her primary caretaker until her death. Dad also taught me to keep promises
and treasure those who are good to you (and forgive those who aren’t). This Father’s Day – like every
day of the year – I will miss him. All the things he did, all the things he taught, all the things he was
(even his flaws) – were his most treasured gifts to me. And for those I am forever grateful.