My dad has always been the biggest kid. He always has a smile on his face, and in fact, he worked with high school students at his A&W restaurant most of his working career. Not everyone wants to work with teenagers, and not everyone has the patience and skill to do it so well.
I worked with him, and the rest of my family, at the A&W for 13 solid years. Not only did I learn from him as my dad, I learned from watching him handle so many situations. He always trusted me and had high expectations. Life in the fast food lane is chaotic, and he taught me how to handle the chaos with class, time after time.
Now retired, he was the guy that was tough, yet a teddy bear to his employees. Working at the A&W was the first job for a lot of kids, and he gave them their first shot, and sometimes their second chance, after they royally messed up. Yes, his mantra of "You are never too sick to work" is stuck in my brain and my own work ethic.
He also taught us simple things like, when you are on the schedule, you have to show up. However, if no one teaches you this, it's very easy to ignore responsibility--especially when you're a teenager and you'd rather go on that date with a cute boy. Yes, he was my dad, but I think he was dad to a lot of young people during that phase of his life.
My dad is also a finder, and I definitely think he passed this on to me. He can find anything you need. If it's help after you crash your 5th car, he's your guy. If you need a ticket, a missing piece to an old train set, a place to take horseback riding lessons--he will help you find a needle in a haystack, even. Even if you lose yourself, or your way, he can help you find you.
He is always excited about things and life. He loves being a grandfather, or Bompa, as my kids call him. He loves those kids with a passion, and they know it! He embraced grand parenthood with his arms wide open and full of love. No hesitations, no reservations, no crazy advice--he actually is 100 percent in my corner no matter what life throws at me.
Speaking of kids, he is the biggest kid himself. He always has time for people. He always is kind, and a good listener. He will talk to anyone (for a very long time, I learned at a young age) and he is always interested in meeting new people and hearing what they have to say.
One thing that stands out in my mind, is that after I was married, I went directly to Canada. Don't pass go, don't collect your $200 (has inflation effected that?) and don't cruise around on a honeymoon. Get yourself to Canada and hurry up, and well, wait for immigration.
I couldn't work. I couldn't go to school. We had one car that went to work with my husband each day and no money. On my birthday, my dad drove 11 hours to take me out to lunch and take me shopping for "whatever I wanted." I chose new mittens and a hat--it is cold in Ottawa. I think that was one of my best days ever.
When we needed money for our first house, he was there with his checkbook, no questions asked--and I believe most of this was his nature. I think it also was the fact that he trusted me to do the right thing, and the right thing was to pay him back as soon as we could, and we did.
Actually, my dad always expects the world to do the right thing. He is kind and generous with his time and spirit and I think he expects that from the rest of us. Sometimes he is disappointed, but most times not. He will go out of his way to help a stranger, take in stray cats and dogs, and find a silver lining when you're sure that all that is there is rust. When these are the standards, we all try our best to rise up and meet them.
There is so much more to say, but mostly, the biggest thing is thank you. Thank you, dad, for being who you are and teaching the rest of us to be better people by example. Thanks for sticking up for me all of these years, being in my corner, and teaching me how to look at the sunny side of life.