Father's Day. Not a day of much celebration, can't hold a candle to Mother's Day. That's probably because our Dad's were laid back, just always there without a whole lot to say.
My parents were divorced when I was 17, so I have to make my memories of my Dad before that time. He was a giant of a man, but as gentle and tender as a teddy bear. He was easy to manipulate to get your way when Mom wasn't home. She was the disciplinarian. She worked the opposite shift of my Dad, leaving us with him in the evening. I was very good about rushing in from school and getting my homework finished just in case I'd have a chance to socialize in the evening. Believe me, I had plenty of chores to do but the one I hated most was dinner dishes. I'd rather go out with my friends for an hour or two. I would beg, whine, wheedle, and just not shut up, begging my Dad to do the dishes. He would be reading his paper and never look up. If he ever looked up over the newspaper and said in a very sweet voice, "I'm going to trade you in for a yellow dog and SHOOT the dog", I knew the conversation was over and I got the dishes done in a hurry. Every now and then he would feel sorry for me and let me out of the dishes.
He worked hard, was a good provider, and I never saw him lose his temper. After he retired he moved to Louisville and looked after his Mother. His sister-in-law credits him for being the reason Grandma lived to be 91. He saw to it that she had meals and medicine, but didn't do the same for himself. It was as if his life was over without my Mother. I think it hurt him to see my brother or me, but we made the effort and went to Louisville every chance we got.
He didn't preach a work ethic, he led by example. His sweet and gentle side came out in both of us. He backed my Mother up even if she was wrong. If we were too sick to go to school or church, we were too sick to do fun things.
He never made a lot of conversation, but we knew he was always there, and as long as he was there, we were safe.
He never took care of himself healthwise, died at 74 of things that could've been prevented had he followed doctors orders, but he always made sure we were taken to a doctor and followed the orders of our doctor.
If you can say a person was just a good human being, a gentle, loving guy that instilled values into you that you have to this day, then that describes my Dad, James Baker.
Share in love, Lu Baker Stafford