I joke often that I am becoming my father. We look more and more alike everyday, our mannerisms are the same and I find myself acting like him.
But here’s why I’m proud to say that.
John E. Moore
My dad lead a somewhat normal Baby-Boomer life. He was born to a middle-class family and had a rather modest childhood in a small town. As the oldest son, while my grandfather was off at work, he took on a lot of household responsibilities and helped with his three younger siblings.
He was forced to grow up early.
At age 17, he started working at a nearby aluminum plant as a mechanic. They worked on all sorts of industrial equipment. It was definitely not a glamorous job. The heat was oppressive and I can still picture the dirt and grime that stained his work clothes, his tools, his hands and just about everything he took to work. But he worked at the plant for over 30 years.
The reason: his family.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand why my parents weren’t around like most other kids. When I was really young, my parents would put me to bed at night, and I’d wake up at the neighbors house (yes, you are reading that right). My parent’s would stealthily scoop me out of bed and take me next door as they headed off to work before the sun came up. Our neighbor, the amazing lady that she is, kept me and her granddaughter during the day, and I was no stranger to their dinner table. In the evening, I’d usually peer out the window waiting for one of my parents cars to pull in the cauldisac. I’d run and meet them at home, we’d spend a few hours together. They’d put me to bed and the whole cycle would start again.
My father was gone before the sun came up and got home after the sun went down. He was no stranger to overtime, and sometimes even slept at the plant. I still remember as a kid knowing that a dinner time phone call usually meant he was coming home. Even then I could tell based on my mom’s tone and her side of the conversation.
There were countless nights I remember watching him eat his reheated dinner alone as I was scuddled off to bed. And there is no telling how many Christmas’s, birthdays (his and mine) and other family holidays that were missed or cut short because he got called into work.
As I got older, it just seemed like the norm. It was just our dynamic. It would be years before I realized the sacrifices he was making for me.
Both my parents worked (long, hard and rather underappreciated work at that) and made enough to support themselves, but those late nights and missed holidays were for me. They wanted to give me opportunities they never had.
School, sports, art and music lessons…I didn’t appreciate those costs as a kid, but I can proudly say, I never went without. If that meant working on Christmas Day to get triple-time-and-a-half, my father did it. If that meant eating reheated dinner alone four nights a week, he did it…and he did it for me.
I am so grateful.
I would not be where I am today had he not made those sacrifices.
I wish I could remember some of his records of straight days worked or number of overtime hours worked. They are staggering.
A Good Man
But what is really inspiring about my father is that he still has that same work ethic today. He just can’t stop.
He was forced to retire from the aluminum plant when it was closed in the early 2000s. Today, he works in an auto parts store because he dreamed it would be a car-guy’s wonderland. Sadly, that’s not true, but he continues to work there as he says to “keep his employee discount.”
But that’s not the whole truth. He can’t sit still and secretly he loves working. All of those years of not having a choice, you’d think he’d be ready for some free time. But instead, he grinds on.
It’s not about family or money anymore. I think it has something to do with putting something out into the world…having a purpose. And now I think he actually feels like he’s helping people, instead of just fixing machines. He helps people solve their problems. He helps these little businesses improve their systems and processes. And he helps set an example for his coworkers.
I think he is a managers dream and that’s not just because of his work ethic. He’s also an incredible team member. Even today, he often changes shifts, stays late or comes in early to help out or cover for a coworker. Not becuase he has to. Because he’s too nice of a guy. Just recently, my father drove a coworker home from dental surgery because he needed a driver, was new to town and didn’t really have anybody.
It’s things like that make me now realize that at least some of those extra shifts years ago at the plant were probably for similar reasons.
That personal sacrifice for your peers is rare.
So, yea. That is why I am inspired by my father and am proud to be named after him.
He’s a good person with an incredible work ethic. He’s a loving father, who would do anything for his family, friends and even his fellow man.
He’s taught me so much. From working in the garage together, to camping with Boy Scouts, to dealing with stress, life and love…all those things we expect from a father.
He’s sacrificed much of his life to give me the opportunities that he never had.
But most importantly, he did (and continues) to do it all with a smile on his face. He reminds me to take a deep breath and that it will all work out. He’s a constant reminder to not take myself too seriously and that my problems aren’t really that bad in the grand scheme of things.
He’s an incredible father and the type of person, and parent, that we should all aspire to be.