To honor my dad this Father's Day, I will share some highlights from my younger years of what he did to be a good father to me and keep life interesting, as he liked to put it:
Circus Trainer: Built stilts in varying heights for us to walk around on in the backyard.
Road Trip Junkie: Drove our family all over the U.S., from bottom to top of California to Texas to Georgia and all points in between, and places in Canada and Mexico.
Cowboy at heart: Wore worn leather work boots to work and polished black Sunday boots to church. Taught me how to polish his dress boots in a way that I thought it was a privilege. Always wore his big Texas belt buckle. Taught me, hand-over-hand, how to shoot when I was around 4 or 5 years old with a pearl-handled pistol.
Sports Coach: Planted trees in the backyard for bases and taught me how to run those bases like a sprinter. Taught me how to throw and catch a baseball and football like or better than any boy my age and this was the late 70s/early 80s. A real feminist, he was.
Guidance Counselor: Taught me to think about my actions and how to solve problems. Never gave me a spanking. When I'd get in trouble, he picked me up, set me on the edge of my parents' bed, and told me to think about what I did wrong and how to make it right, and I had to sit there until I could/would articulate my responsibility in the situation.
Brave Soul: Took me bra shopping for the first time because my mother was either busy or in denial that I needed to start wearing bras. I'm thinking the latter is the main reason even if she was busy. He dropped me off at the lingerie section of the store and told me to pick whatever I wanted and he would be back to get me once I finished. Then, he left me to the task. Of course my mother was mortified when I came home with red and black lace bras and panties. I was 12 years old.
Fashionista: Helped me pick out accessories for my first Homecoming dance. We didn't have much money then, so I had to wear a dress that my mom had made me for another occasion, but he took me to get shoe clips to revamp the shoes I already had, and he bought me my first black patent leather handbag to match the shoes.
Humble Classic Car Enthusiast: Let me try out his 1966 Mustang for the first time at 15 1/2 with a learner's permit. I had never driven an automatic or a car with a powerful engine, so when I put it in reverse and stepped on the gas, I had no time to check behind me and backed directly into our gate. He started yelling/swearing at me like crazy, telling me I'd never drive his Mustang again as long as I live, etc. So I yelled right back telling him how he should have warned me that the thing just goes in an automatic and he should know that I hadn't ever driven one since the only other car I had driven thus far was a stick shift. He stopped, looked down at his hands, and apologized. I started the Mustang up again, and it took me about five minutes to back that thing out slowly from the driveway I was so paranoid. I was determined to get to drive it again!