Cherish the time you have with your dad

Even though it just seems like yesterday that my father and I were sitting on the banks of the mighty Ohio River fishing and sharing stories, today will mark the 20th Father’s Day since his passing.

In those 20 years, I have changed quite a bit, moving all around the country to pursue my career in newspapering and growing into what I pray he would think is an upstanding member of society and – most importantly – a good son.

By no means am I nearly the man my father was, but I do hope that in some small way he would be proud of the person that I have become.

He certainly left me with many lasting lessons, not the least of which is a good, solid work ethic.

Growing up, I remember my father coming home from the glass factory, drenched in sweat with a new layer of calluses on his hands.

Dad truly was a hard worker, and along with my mother, made sure my brother and I knew the value and satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

In fact, in the 50 years my father worked at the Fenton Art Glass Co. in my hometown, he never – and I mean NEVER – took a sick day or an unscheduled day away from the craft that he so loved.

Despite that, he always was there for his family in times of need and in times of joy and celebration.

Soft-spoken and humble, my father grew up at the tail end of the Great Depression. To say he came from meager roots is a bit of an understatement but, nonetheless, I always have and will continue to admire the man my father was and the sacrifices he made.

That definitely is another quality that sticks out in my mind all these years later – my father’s generosity.

Whether it was a family member in need or someone he just met on the street, he treated them the same, with kindness, respect and with a giving spirit.

In fact, I cannot recall a time when I saw my father mad. He never argued, never raised his voice, never said a bad word about anyone and always kept his word.

Perhaps the most vivid memories I have of my father involve one of his daily routines. Without fail, every morning, my dad would rise before the sun, fill the tea kettle on the stove and make a cup of “coffee.” I say it that way because – as I learned later – he really wasn’t drinking real coffee – it was Sanka. OK, I suppose it’s coffee, but I never have been able to acquire a taste for that.

From there, he would set in solitude at the kitchen table, either thinking of the day to come or leafing through the newspaper.

Then, mom would make breakfast for him, and dad would take her to work, before returning to make my breakfast. God bless my father, but the only two things he could cook were fried eggs and pancakes.

The food, though, didn’t really matter. What mattered was the time we got to spend together each morning before we went our separate ways – to school and work.

Even though my dad was the silent type, I always knew he loved my mom, my brother and I.

After his diagnosis with terminal cancer, I moved back home from college to help out, and we became even closer. I would go with him to his treatments, and we would chat about his childhood and the “good old days.” Even though I know he was hurting – and probably scared – he never complained and instead comforted us all, putting on the bravest of faces until the very end.

Twenty years is a long time, almost unfathomable. There is not a day that goes by, though, that I don’t recall fondly the many life lessons my dad passed on to me.

This Father’s Day, I will again take pause to remember the great man that I was able to call “Dad,” and I will count my blessings that I was able to have such a special man and amazing role model for the first 22 years of my life.

I truly miss him, and my mother, too.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Editor in Chief Matthew Burdette can be reached by email at mburdette@nashuatelegraph.com and by telephone at 603-594-1240. Follow him on Twitter @Telegraph_MattB.