Growing up, I never understood some of the stuff you did and said. Like whenever you'd have to spank me you'd say "this hurts me more than it'll ever hurt you". I pretty much thought you were an ogre whenever you'd make me clean my room, feed the dog and horse, or mow the lawn.
It would aggravate me to no end when you'd come home at night and make me repeat whatever I did during piano practice or make me tell you what happened at school that day, even though I'd already done it for Mom. I could never understand why I had to go over my report card with you at the end of the week when you got home from your business trip, because Mom had already read me the riot act and I was pretty sure she'd relayed the happy news already.
In fact, from the time I was about 15 until I turned 22, I was fairly certain you were the dumbest man I knew.
It's amazing how smart you got that year.
Now? I know you did all that because you didn't want to miss a thing that happened. That even though you couldn't be there at the time, you wanted to experience it for yourself. I DID notice you never missed a game, practice, or recital I was in, even if you had to drive 4 hours from wherever you were to see it, then drive those same 4 hours back to work the next day.
I saw you standing on the sidelines at every baseball or football game I ever had, even if you were still in your shirt and tie because you didn't have time to go home and change. Thanks for riding my tail about a C on my report card and getting on me when I did a chore half way. I was always grateful that after travelling all week and then mowing the 2 acre lawn on Saturday, you always had time to have a catch with me that afternoon.
You taught me how to treat my wife with respect and dignity, as well as what NOT to say sometimes. I've had a hard time absorbing that lesson fully, I gotta admit. You always got the most upset at the stupid stuff I did, like dumping the grease from the chicken on the front lawn or throwing the GI Joes up at the ceiling, knocking paint all over the bath tub.
But you were always loving and understanding with the serious stuff, like speeding tickets, car wrecks, and some random girl breaking my heart. As much as I've tried, I can NEVER remember a day where you failed to say "I love you" to me, and that includes the last 15 years not spent under your roof.
I've strived to be the same type of Dad to my kids, although I know I'll never be as good at it as you.
Thanks, Pop, from me and The Stooges, for helping to make me the Dad I am today.