Building Character: A Father's Day Tribute
This is a blog post I wrote in 2009 for Storey's Author Blog. It's an appreciation of my Dad on Father's Day.
Ahhh, memories. Sultry August days at the ball park, just me ‘n dad, watching the Indianapolis Indians from the bleachers as I sneak a taste of his Falls City, cool and exotic to my young taste buds.
Those are great memories, but they must be somebody else’s. I hate sports, there were three of us kids, and dad’s not any kind of a beer drinker. My childhood summer reveries consisted of scraping the lead paint off our aging house and coping with the soul-searing itchiness of the fiberglass insulation we were stuffing into every available nook and cranny.
Up on the ladders, it was just dad and me, my younger brother being unsuitable for the task for a variety of reasons. Day after day we quietly flailed away at the task, trying to make the best of it, enjoying the kind of tough-guy camaraderie that people in challenging circumstances always share. That summer, I learned things about stamina and determination, qualities I never wanted at the time, but would need when a sewer pipe collapsed six feet under the rock-hard frozen turf during the following Christmas break. And although I couldn’t understand it at the time, it is to my father’s great credit that he was willing to generously share these opportunities for extreme personal growth with me.
So how did I get to beer? Random encounters at first, like everybody. Then, a willingness to rip things apart and see how they worked too hold in this area as it had so many times before, and I found myself on a trail of a pretty exciting subject. Brewing followed, then a book, and another, and another. Beer is a complex subject, and to really get to know it inside out needs some study of botany, prehistory, biochemistry, art, metallurgy and linguistics. All of which I’ve been able to pursue because, well, I didn’t know I couldn’t.
For dad, nothing is too challenging. He single-handedly re-roofed his house at 74, and did two road trips to the Gulf Coast to work on Habitat for Humanity projects this winter. He’s 86 now. As a child of the depression, he knew plenty of hardship. He caught a break when the Army taught him to fly in the war, and he was struck by the notion that he could be more than a chicken farmer, eventually becoming an architect.
I’m not the house-crunching animal he is, but I have my own set of skills. And I like to think a little his calm confidence and fearlessness to approach any task, no matter how formidable, rubbed off on my young self. For a man of action like my father, deeds mean far more than words, but still, it never hurts to say it. Thanks, Dad, and happy Father’s Day.