Saturday, December 05, 2009


I can still smell him. To me he smelled like his job. He owned his own company, a storm door and window venture based in the suburbs of Chicago. He was a simple man by nature but complex by experience. He took his 4th grade education and turned it into a self guided career that allowed him to retire on his savings and social security at the age of 62. He had a retirement house built halfway between two ozark lakes in north central Arkansas. He purchased a speed boat and thrilled his grand children by ushering them around those huge lakes filled with cobalt blue waters. He loved to work for himself using his hands and the tools he accumulated over the years. He built things that he had no right to know how to build. I have no idea how he learned to do those things. He just did.

He was a good dad. I did not realize at the time just how good he was. It was not until I became a dad myself that I realized how hard he worked to take care of and provide for his family. I can remember him going to work, always an outdoors event for my dad, when I was a small child on mornings when it was -20 degrees. He just bundled up and went. Somedays he worked 7 day a week. Whatever it took, he did.

Because he worked on the installation of storm doors and windows he smelled like caulking, lumber, aluminum, gasoline, and in the summer, sweat. He wore tall leather boots, pinstriped overalls, and sometimes a ball cap. He never complained about how hard he worked but he never hid it either. When he needed rest we all knew it because his laughter faded to crankiness. In my younger days I remember him laughing more. He loved country music including goofy ozark style "hee haw" tunes. I hated them but it always cracked me up to see him enjoy them. He bought a huge stereo cabinet complete with turntable and radio. It was about 6 feet long and made of some sort of dark hardwood. He loved that stereo. I sometimes wonder what he would think of todays Ipod culture. I think he would miss the dressiness of the wood, the beauty of the cabinetry.

My earliest memories of my dad include sitting on his lap on Sunday mornings in Detroit while he read the cartoons to me. I'm sure I bugged him until he gave in became my reader. Dad loved to drive and had impeccable taste in cars. The first one I remember was his pink and white 1957 Chevy. He eventually traded that in for a white 1964 Chevy Impala Super Sport. He had a knack for choosing a classic.

Dad was far from perfect. He seldom said, "I love you" first. But you never doubted his love. He seldom grabbed you and hugged you but if you hugged him he always hugged you back. He took me to many White Sox games at Old Comiskey Park but never one at Wrigley Field. He just didn't do the north side. I watched dad race from his garage one day to defend a friend of mine from the neighborhood bully as the bullies father screamed for him to "scratch his eyes out." Dad stood toe to toe with the man and told him that he was going to do to him whatever his boy did to my friend. And I know that he would have had the man not pulled his son away and retreated homeward with their tails between their legs. I was never prouder of my dad than I was at that moment.

I could write forever about my dad. He has been gone nearly 10 years now. I miss him more every day. I think, perhaps, that is a thing that God has planned out in order to prepare us for the coming reunion. Today I have worn his wedding ring all day long. It is all I have left of him. Except for my memories. The memories are far more valuable than the ring.

And today he would have been 90 years old. That is unfathomable. Unbelievable. And yet true. Somehow I think that he would be more of a man at 90 than I could possibly be at any age.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Size Matters

Several of us were looking at a jigsaw puzzle of the world tonight after church. It's 32 inches wide. I made some smart remark about wondering what the "scale" was between the puzzle and the real planet earth.

Teachable moment: never wonder aloud about something like that in the presence of a proud member of The United States Air Force (AKA: Adam Page.) I received the following mathematical equation on my facebook page about an hour later.

Puzzle Diameter = 32 inches
Earths Diameter at the equator 7,926.28 miles
First convert miles to feet 7926.28 X 5280 = 41,850,758.4
Then feet to inches 41850758.4 X 12 = 502,209,100.8 is earth’s diameter in inches at the equator
So the scale of the puzzle is 32/502209100.8 OR 1/15,694,034.4ths approximately

I present this to you simply because the world needs to know it ain't no big deal.