For 52 years my father would get up every morning at 5:30 a.m., except on Sundays, and went to work. For 52 years he would return home at 5:30 p.m., 1)like clockwork, and would have dinner at 6:00 p.m. I never remember my father taking a “night out with the 2)boys,” nor do I ever recall my father drinking. All he asked from me as his daughter, was to hold his hammer while he repaired something, just so we could have some time to talk to each other.
I never saw my father home from work ill, nor did I ever see my father lay down to take a nap. He had no hobbies, other than taking care of his family.
For the 22 years after I left home to attend college, my father called me every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. He was always interested in my life, how my family was doing, and I never once heard him 3)lament about his lot in life. The calls came even when he and my mother were in Australia, England or Florida.
9 years ago, when I purchased my first house, my father, who was 67 years old at the time, spent 8 hours a day, for three days, in the 80-degree 4)Kansas heat, painting my house. He would not allow me to pay someone to have it done. All he asked, was a glass of iced tea, and that I held the paint brush and talked with him. But, I was too busy. I had a 5)law practice to run, and I could not take the time to hold paint brushes, or talk with my father.
5 years ago, and at the age of 71, again in the 6)sweltering Kansas heat, my father spent 5 hours putting together a 7)swing set for my daughter. Once more, all he asked was that I get him a glass of iced tea, and talk with him. Yet again, I had laundry to do and a house to clean.
4 years ago, my father drove all the way from 8)Denver to 9)Topeka, with an 8-foot 10)Colorado Blue Spruce in his trunk, so that my husband and I could have a part of Colorado growing on our land. I was preparing for a trip that weekend, and couldn’t spend much time talking to daddy.
Then, on the morning of Sunday, January 16, 1996, my father telephoned me as usual, but this time it was from my sister’s home in Florida. We conversed about the tree he had brought me—“Fat Albert” he had named it, but that morning he called it “Fat Oscar”—and he seemed to have forgotten some things we had discussed the previous week. I had to get to church, and so I cut the conversation short.
The call came at 4:40 p.m. on that day that my father was in the hospital in Florida with an 11)aneurysm. I got on an airplane immediately, and on the way I thought of all the occasions when I had not taken the time to talk with him. I realized that I had no idea who he was, or what his deepest thoughts were. I vowed that when I arrived, I would make up for the lost time, and have a nice long talk with him and really get to know him.
I arrived in Florida at 1:00 a.m. My father had passed away at 9:12 p.m. This time it was he who did not have time to talk or wait for me.
In the years following his death, I have learned much about my father, and even more about myself. As a father, he never asked me for anything but my time. Now, he has all my attention— every single day!