I have a lot of things to share this week with summer finally in swing. I have oil field stories, outdoor stories, food stories, and farm stories, and also, more North Dakota stories: My friend E., a fellow English teacher and North Dakotan who is now teaching in Asia, has a blog called A Nonstirdownable Cerebral Sphere. I love travel almost as much as I love anything, so her stories about life in Asia fascinate me. Her latest post, however, turned the focus back towards home. “North Dakota, Keep Singing,” is definitely worth a read, so check it out! (After I finished reading it, I thought, “I wish I would have written that.” That’s when I know something has really struck a chord with me!)
Today, though, I’m going to skip all my other stories — just for now — and say a few words about my dad in honor of Father’s Day.
My dad, Mike, is perhaps the most unique person I know. Most adults have one full-time job; my dad is a lawyer, farmer, basketball coach, and somehow still has time for his family. Even though he has been a successful lawyer in Bismarck for many years, he still drives around junky Buicks that have the mirrors duct-taped on and parks an assortment of farm equipment and trailers in front of our Bismarck house, to the chagrin of my mother. His greatest joy when we were growing up was lining up all six of us early on Saturday morning for a full day of chores (all of those crappy jobs “build character,” you know), then taking us to the local Sta-mart afterward to buy us slushies. After I left home, he ensured that I kept up that early morning work ethic by calling my college dorm room around 7:00 a.m. and leaving messages for me and my roommate still asleep in our bunks, just making sure we were “making hay while the sun shines.” (This happened even if we didn’t have class until 10:30). He is also a master of efficiency: He liked to save room in the cupboard by mixing Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios together, which greatly annoyed all of us. Then, he would save room in the fridge by mixing milk and chocolate milk together, which greatly annoyed all of us. That didn’t stop him. He isn’t afraid to tell us who to vote for, who to date, and what car to drive, and then he laughs when we tell him to mind his own business, although, often, we don’t. I think we can all admit that he does, in fact, seem to know quite a bit.
I’ve had the privilege of being my dad’s only daughter out of six children. I know he loves all his five sons just as much, but he also says often, “Every dad needs at least one daughter.” He used to buy me Nerf guns and plastic swords for Christmas, just like my brothers, and he showed me how to drive a combine when I was 12, just like my brothers. But he treats me “special” too: He buys me pink tool sets for Christmas, and he showed my prom date in high school the shotgun sitting inconspicuously behind the front door. I assured my worried date that my dad was joking, so he laughed, perhaps a little nervously. I think he still kept one eye on my dad during the social hour.
But if every dad needs at least one daughter, then I say that every daughter needs a dad, too, if she is fortunate enough to have a good one. I thought I would share a poem I wrote several years ago because I think it sums it up pretty well. Here it is:
Me and My Dad
A girl like me won’t ask for much
Perhaps a shoulder when I’m sad
And when I need that very thing
That’s when I need my dad.
A girl like me is pretty good
At solving problems when they’re bad
But still, the times I need advice
That’s when I call my dad.
A girl like me is on my own
Through all life’s lessons that I’ve had
But girls, they need protection too
That’s why I’ve got my dad.
A girl like me don’t need a boy
For after all, they drive you mad
But all girls need one man in life
So me, I have my dad.
He’s honest, smart, he’s strong and brave
I sure am lucky and so glad
God knew I’d need a hero here
That’s why I’ve got my Dad.