Saturday, July 9, 2011

We Could Depend on Dad

My dad worked thirty years of shifts at Sharon Steel. Every week a different one, day turn, afternoon and midnights. Our favorite was day turn because Dad spent the afternoon and evening with us as we were at school while he worked. Our second was midnights except for summer when we had to be quiet all day while he tried to sleep. The hardest for him because the neighbors had a pool just across the yard from his open window. We also sneaked in Mom's bed to sleep with her, Mom tells even the older kids did that when they were young. No one liked afternoons. Dad was gone all evening from 230 till 1130pm.
The summers weren't so bad, as Mom let us stay up until he came home. Usually Mom fell asleep on the couch watching the 11 o'clock news. The dog and cat, Nicky and Ho Chi, met him at the back door and he'd comment on having a faithful greeting after a hard day's work. Dad often had interesting stories to tell. One summer, it must have been when Diane stayed in Kansas for summer school, Dad arrived later than usual from work. Mom was awake, because Johnny Carson talked on the TV and no Dad, yet.
Dad appeared at the door, face white, clothes ashy and dirty. Not like Dad at all, as he always showered and changed his clothes at work, washing his work clothes at a laundromat. We knew something had happened, but what?
"I came down Swamp Road and a flame flashed behind me," Dad started to tell about the tardiness of his coming home, "I turned the car around and saw a car on fire. I pulled a young girl out, she was Diane's size. She looked like Diane, except she had red hair. All I could think of was Diane, that could have been Diane or any of her friends."
He loved us all so much and our friends. He cared deeply for our well being. I believe he visited this girl in the accident as she recovered in the hospital. I think she fell asleep and somehow as she crashed her car caught on fire. It is vague, now, but I do remember how shaken he was that night.
We never knew what Dad would tell as he came home. The weekend mornings brought danishes and bear claws from Ideal Bakery. We rested in the fact Dad was coming home and that he loved us. He provided for his family. He determined to work with a headache, a sore throat or "just don't feel well," never calling off, displaying his great work ethic.
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