Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Daddy

I would like to tell you about a very important man in my life. My father, or as I always called him, Daddy. I'm 50 yrs old, so I'm no "little" Daddy's girl but will always be Daddy's girl. I'm convinced there was a whole side to him I didn't know. A side that was part of his younger years, I'm sure. The family name is York. And there are definite personality traits and characteristics that come with that moniker. He had three younger brothers and most of them were quite the storytellers. They grew up in the 50's in a small Missouri town and if half of the stories I heard were true, then the York boys sure were a force of nature to contend with. And that image doesn't really fly with the Daddy I knew. That's how I know there was another side to him. He had a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the day. That, alone, had to have come with some expectations that may shock this daughter of his.

One family trait that was bound to have been the cause of a major change in his life was a short fuse and impulsive action while mad. One night, he was playing his trombone in a company band when a director informed the trombone section that their slides must slide in the same direction, like the bows in the violin section. Anyone with any musical knowledge knows that a slide's position goes in coralation with the note being played. If there are two or three trombone parts, then there would be two or three different slide positions, not working in tandem. My father's infamous reactionary anger, packed up his trombone, along with some others and they left to cruise around town for the remainder of the evening. That night they met a carload of girls, one being my mother. After three months of seeing each other nearly nightly, they married, a little tidbit they kept as quiet as possible to their teenage daughter in hopes that she wouldn't think that she could quickly meet and marry. I've never been convinced that my parents were to be each other's life mate, but they stuck it out and made it almost 53 years.

Daddy was a quiet, hard-working man but as stubborn and opinionated as they come, a common trait not only of Yorks but of Missourians. He started out as a draftsman and ended up in the oil industry, drawing plans for many of the huge oil fields around the east and south, as well as in the Virgin Islands. He became an expert in stress analysis and was a go-to guy for many even from other companies. He would often go head-to-head with the "big wigs" because he was right and he knew it. My dad only had an associates degree of schooling but he had more common sense and real-life problem-solving than most people put togethter. And he was kinda proud of himself for it. He ended his career at Boeing. He didn't work on airplanes, he designed buildings, heating/air systems and drainage systems for building that housed thousands and thousands of people. He was a strange combination of working his 8 hrs/day and protecting his personal time as well as anyone can in these times, and truly loving what he did and the respect he had from those in his industry.

Daddy died this past May 7. As with the rest of the family, he struggled with heart problems, but in the end it was cancer that killed him. Around the age of 50, he had his first major heart-attack and had a quadruple-bypass. He was pretty disciplined and changed his diet and started walking religiously. A natural high cholesterol was always working against him. Poor guy, he loved to eat. He used to drive by Dairy Queens and act like the car had a mind of its own and it was turning in against his will. And if he ever did stop, it was nothing less than a banana split. Except for the joy in a typical 5 year old's eyes when eating such treats, no one thoroughly enjoyed such treats like Daddy did.

As far as the kind of father he was for me, he wasn't perfect, as most aren't. As I've mentioned, he grew up the oldest of all boys. He wanted a girl when I came along. And he loved his little girl. He was so proud of me and it showed in his face. I started playing piano at an early age and he wanted me to excel. He didn't always know what to do with a child, much less a girl. When I became a teenager, he became much more awkward toward me. The nightly kiss goodnight ceased. A uncharacteristicly crude joke about girls and their time of the month that embarrassed me to death also created some distance between us. But I was always so much more like my father than my mother. I would spend time with him in the garage handing him tools as he worked on cars and we'd talk about this and that, nothing terribly important. But it kept me out of the kitchen with my mother, which would always end up in some sort of fight in very quick order. Needless to say, I eventually had to teach myself how to cook. And I'm quite the "gearhead" as some of my old friends used to say. Among the very few times I talked to my dad about deep things to me in the moment, I recall him reassuring me that boys "date girls that do but marry those that don't." He also shared with me once that one of the boys that was pursuing me at the time wasn't impressing him in the least either. It seemed the only person he impressed was my mother. After Daddy told me that, I promptly broke up with him.

There is much I cannot put words to about Daddy. He did the best he could at all things and at all times. If he had a real fault in the end, it was that he shouldered everything inside. He had a faith of little words, but showed it in his desire to reach out to co-workers in hard times. He was a strong believer in a home- cooked meal being comforting. He worked hard at avoiding conflict in areas he had no power to change and held on to the hope that God still answers prayer. I think he questioned that a bit in the end, but doubt is an important part of one's faith and I know he was rewarded with his mansion in the sky and I'll see him again there.


  1. and now I feel like I know him too....what a beautiful tribute to the first man you loved.

  2. Scotty the first thing that came to me while reading this was that you got your musical talent and/or interest from your dad. The second was how Blessed you were to have had him in your life. Now I must go and wipe away the tears. ((tight hugs)) Kaci (Kathy)

  3. thanks, Kathy, I did. My son now has his grandfather's old trombone. He had asked his Grandpa for it about a year prior to his death. I know it tickled Grandpa pink to know his grandson wanted it.

  4. Wow Scotty...that's a very touching tribute to your dad. Very well put together. I really enjoyed getting to know him through this piece.
    Can't wait for the glorious reunion one day!

  5. Beautifully written, Scotty!

  6. Thanks Janice and Tina! You both are the best!