This is my father.
He is the smartest man that I have ever known.
As my brother, sister, and I were growing up he worked hard. He was an electrical engineer. When I was five he studied and got his Masters. There was a turtle that lived under his desk and at times I would crawl under there to be with it. I don't think that I gave that imaginary turtle a name. I think it was an excuse to be near him, maybe playing with his slide rule if he let me.
He could do anything. He built us three color TVs with kits you get in the mail. Boy, did he get mad when he found out that my friends and I had discovered that solder could be used to make rings and bracelets. When I was smaller I recall him taking me with him to test the tubes at the machine at the nearby convenience store or at the hardware store.
He took us to Florida every year. A week in Clearwater or Fort Lauderdale and then a week at Disney World. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized that not everyone got to do that. At the beginning of the trip he would give us kids each a bag of quarters that were ours to use in the arcade and machines in the rest areas on the way.
Our relationship became strained as I got older. He was disappointed in me for foolishly squandering my intelligence and I was a very rebellious teenager. He preferred I study and I preferred to party.
He and my mother divorced when I was fifteen. When I was much older I found out how hard it had been on him, being married to my mom. I no longer blame him. She suffered from depression and anxiety also and was pretty bad a lot of the time.
He didn't remarry but he had a longtime girlfriend who he loved very much. She became a quadriplegic and he showed us all just how much he loved her by having her live at home and taking care of her. My sister and I would help him but he did the majority of the work until it came time to take her to a nursing home. He went there every day to visit her. My respect for him just grew and grew.
Now I am afraid that I am a disappointment to him. He doesn't quite understand my major depressive disorder and anxiety. I'm sure he thinks that I could "get over it" if I just tried harder. But he doesn't tell me this.
Instead, he does everything that he can for me. He has helped me fix my car more than once. He gets my birthday mixed up with my sister's, which is a week later, but he always sends me something.
For this Father's Day all I could get him was a CD but it was of one of his favorite singers. He called me to tell me thank you. I wish so much that it could have been more.
I am so glad that I grew to have a better understanding of what he went through when I was young. Of just how hard he worked for us. Of all the things he gave up in order to stay and raise us. Some men would not have done that.
So Happy Father's Day Daddy. I love you and maybe someday I will get the chance to make you proud of me again.