From my sister, Michelle, to my Dad. Michelle and are different in many ways and alike in others. We have a mutual respect for each others differences and qualities. I love my family.
One of the first things you teach a young child is to say “Thank You”. It seems so simple, but as we get older and experience more of life, sometimes we forget how important those two words are. I’d like to let you know that I learned that lesson well, and would like to say “Thank You” for all the things you have done and taught me.
You spent weeks at a time away from your family to provide a comfortable life for us. You would stay in sparsely furnished apartment and eat the same pot of goulash all week long. I loved going with you to those apartments during the summer, cooking for you and being the “gopher” on the job site. You would come home on the weekend and fit in all your “fatherly” duties with kindness, love and patience. It was a sacrifice for both you and Mom I know. I learned that your family is always number one, and you do what you have to do to provide.
I wasn’t holding up on my end of the bargain in taking care of my dog Whiskers, you said, “We’re getting rid of the dog”. I promptly said “I hate you”. You made me write that out ten times and post it on the refrigerator. I don’t remember how long it hung there, but I do remember how much it hurt to see every time I walked past it. You knew I didn’t mean it, and so did I. I learned two very important lessons from that. First, if you say something you’d better mean it, and that words can hurt. I try to practice those lessons every day. I know now you would have never really gotten rid of my dog.
I remember so many times you would tell jokes at the dinner table. Mom would get upset sometimes because they were a little off color and say “Norm”!! You would do that little jig and we would just laugh. You would get that little glint in your eye and that funny grin. I learned that humor can sometimes be your best weapon. I think many would say I’ve learned that lesson very well.
You were “green” before they called it that. We picked and cleaned bricks for the house across from the tennis courts in ditches, pig lots and torn down school houses. The shop is built out of “recycled” wood from the University of Iowa Rec Center. My shed is made out of almost exclusively re-purposed materials. I think all we bought was the cement, one window and some shingles. I learned the importance of a dollar.
When your construction company went under and we lost the house with the pigpen bricks I was devastated. I remember going into the cubbyhole under the stairs and crying for hours. We moved into the 2 bedroom apartment, you and Mom gave us kids the bedrooms, and your bed was in the living room. I remember being able to hear the upstairs neighbors using the bathroom, and the insulation in the apartment being so bad my sheets froze to the wall in the winter. We eventually bought the Finke house and remodeled it together. You and Mom made sure Kim and my room’s were done first so we could move in first. Some of my fondest memories are in that tiny apartment, and fixing up the Finke house, including scraping 3 layers of wallpaper off the ceilings. I learned that possessions are just that-possessions. Nothing replaces family and hard work will always be rewarded.
I think every one of my dates met you in your T-Shirt and underwear while sitting in that big brown recliner. You would be eating peanuts and have skins and shells in your chest hair. You were always polite and said very little, but the message was always loud and clear- “Don’t mess with Norm’s girls”. I learned that quiet strength is powerful, sometimes you say more by not saying a word, and “don’t mess with Norm’s kids-if you do, you’ll be sorry.” Just in case my dates didn’t get that message from you, they got it from my brothers…You must have taught them the same lesson.
Every remodeling project I have had has your stamp on it. I am really the least apt of all the kids when it comes to the construction trade. You do your best to be patient and teach me things. My husband has learned so much from you, and not only about construction and woodworking. He wasn’t lucky enough to have the same type of father figure in his life. Thank you for showing him the same type of fatherly love you’ve always shown me.
THANK YOU FOR:
Sitting on the porch during thunderstorms counting the seconds between lightning and thunder to see how far away the lightning was.
Going mushrooming on Pansy Hill. We were hot and thirsty and all you had was a Pabst Blue Ribbon. That was my first sip of beer.
Letting me drive home from the pitching clinic in Des Moines. I was only 13 and was driving on the interstate! Mom had a cow when she found out. You calmly said “She did just fine.”
Calling my cats your “grand kitties” and calling to check in on them when they are ill.
I am so fortunate to have grown up in such a close, loving family. The older I get the more I realize how lucky I am. I always assumed everyone had what we have, but really my experience is more the exception not the rule. THANK YOU.
Happy Father’s Day Dad! I Love You