Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ode to the Bus Driver

I thought that today, being Father's Day, it would be apropos to write a little sum-in', sum-in' about my padre. This would probably be best in chronological order, but it won't be... just writing it as it comes :)

FYI... when people meet my dad, they often comment on how they think he either looks like Phil Collins or Robyn Williams. (Dad is in the middle)

If you've been following along on my blog at any point in the past year, you have probably learned that my father was a little Amish boy. I was thinking about my dad lately. I remembered that in the house we grew up in, there was a shoebox in his closet containing pics of him as a little Amish boy. Now, in general the Amish don't have their pictures taken. But my father went to public school, not Amish school. Therefore, when all of the kids were photographed for the yearbook, the Amish kids often had their pictures taken too. Most of the time, the Amish allowed their kids to be photographed, but they would not purchase the packages. However, my dad had a few school pictures of himself in that box. I sent him a message on FB yesterday telling him to find those pics and scan them to me. I'll have to share a few once he does. He made such a cute little Amish boy too!

Well, about my dad... he is a kind man. He is loyal to his faith, his family, and his friends. He doesn't judge a book by it's cover, and he doesn't judge people that way either. His idea of beauty isn't usually something glamorous. He sees beauty in its most natural and simplest forms. He also has a sense of humor that really cracks me up. He is uber clever and witty. He loves to read, although doesn't always have time to do so. He'd rather be caught up in a good book than in front of the television set. He is intrigued by things such as steam engines. He is a "tinker", as he would say. One who "tinks". Others might say he is a "tinkerer" because he likes to "tinker". Either way, you get the idea. My mom would say that he is much like his own father in that the wheels are always turning in his head. He is always thinking up ways to invent or build things. He is no stranger to the jimmy-rig. He's like an unschooled engineer in that regard.

My father appreciates education. He enjoyed school and was grateful to go, unlike perhaps other boys his age. The Amish don't typically go to school past the 8th grade, so when my father was 14, his formal learning was over. Perhaps it was this fact that made him appreciate his schooling so much. But I think he just loves to learn. As an adult he did go back and get his G.E.D.

He has always been fascinated with the "outside world". He used to wish he could work on a cruise ship so he could see the world. He did end up working for a tour bus company as a driver for several years, and has pretty much seen all of the United Stated, much of Canada, and even places like Greenland and Newfoundland. With his current job he travels on a regular basis and even gets to go to places like Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Belgium.

He is never idle. I mean, of course he has a day here or there in which he will kick back and watch a show or read a book. But he is not lazy. This is mostly due to his upbringing. Y'know the old routine, "When I was your age I had to walk to school, uphill, in the snow, both ways"??? Yeah... well my father's was more like, "When I was your age, I had to get up every morning at 5am to do chores and as soon as I got home from school I had chores too. I had to work in the fields, milk cows....." Well, you get the idea. It was a great guilt tactic during the occasional family "meetings" in which we had the talk about pitching in and keeping our rooms clean, etc.

My father was a hard worker in everything he did and in everything he still does. Growing up, my father worked lots and lots of hours so that my mom could stay at home to raise 7 children. I remember a few times he worked odd jobs on the weekends too, like driving truck. He'd even let me and my older sister take turns riding with him on his early Saturday morning trucking gigs. I felt so special when it was my turn. He'd even make me breakfast; the same as him. An egg sandwich and a glass of Tang.

When he was a bus driver he was gone on trips all the time. He and my mom finally decided he needed to be home more. So, he became a certified bus technician and went from full time driving to full time mechanic for buses. He worked longer hours to make ends meet. The nice thing is we lived 2 doors down from the bus company, so even though he'd work 60-70 a week, we'd see quite a bit of him :)

The morning of my 16th birthday, no one remembered. No one said "Happy Birthday" to me or anything. My mom had started working grave yard shifts at the hospital a few times a week, so she hadn't come home before I had to leave for my early morning class. I pretty much went to school feeling like crap that no one remembered my big special birthday. Then, during 5th period at school, the office gave me a note that said to call my dad at work as soon as possible. I thought maybe something was wrong. I went to the payphone and called him. He said that he was getting ready to leave for Merrillville (outside of Chicago) to drive a group to see the Vienna Boys Christmas Concert at the Star Plaza Theater. The tour group event organizer said that they had some extra seats and he could bring someone. He thought I might like to go since I enjoyed choral music and since it was my birthday. Of course, I said YES! He said he already talked to the attendance office and would be checking me out 30 minutes early. Of course he picked me up in the big tour bus, so that was way cool. So my crappy day turned out really awesome. I got to leave school early, eat dinner with my dad at a nice sit-down restaurant in a Chicago suburb and attend a live Christmas show by the Vienna Boys choir. I remember being so happy on the way home I felt like crying.

I remember when my Mom taught an early morning seminary class for high school students. It was from 6am-6:45am each weekday. My older sister was a freshman that year, so she went. My dad decided that the rest of us could also get up early and read the scriptures. Most of us probably slept through them. Nevertheless, my dad got us all up early and read two columns to us each morning. The next year, I started attending the early morning class. My dad still rounded up the troops and this continued year after year.

My father is a peacemaker. He does not like confrontation, and he was never really the disciplinarian either. That was mostly my mom's job, since he was gone a lot anyway. But, I tell you what, I would have taken a spanking from my mom than a "I'm disappointed in you" talk from my father any day. Because, if my dad had to say that, then you knew what you did was really bad.

My dad is a charmer. He is friendly and talks to anyone, anywhere at anytime for any reason. Sometimes my kids will ask why I start up conversations with random people in the check out line or at the gas station. I always say, "Ohh....just being friendly." But, then I smile as I remember my dad did the same thing. Everyone who knows him likes him. He is just a nice guy. He grew up in the town I grew up in. He worked in town. He did volunteer service with the EMS department and was an EMT for years, and even the VP of the dept once. Everyone knew him. He had a good reputation of being honest and good. If I ever found myself in trouble, I only needed to mention to someone that I was Sam's daughter and they would help. What a legacy to have your name speak so much about you. He charmed my friends too. He would be funny when they came over to play.

He was a teaser. Sarcasm was and is just one of the many free services he offers. I remember when I was about 10, my father made a wise crack, and I was able to spout a clever reply right off the cuff. My dad didn't say a word. Instead I saw him crack his typical half-crooked smirk. I had caught him off guard and he was speechless. I felt so pleased with myself at that very moment. Like now we were on equal playing ground. That was our "thing". We often joked and teased each other. I was glad that was our "thing". He didn't always do that with the other kids, but for some reason he did with me.

My father loves to cook and bake and grill. And he is good at it too. He pretty much cooked every Sunday dinner at our house growing up. I always looked forward to that. Often times he would sport my mom's blue apron too.

This ended up being way longer than I anticipated, so if I have lost some of you along the way, sorry about that. But let me leave you with this last little tidbit...

My father is loyal to my mother. He wines her and dines her and he brings her her favorite flowers for special occassions and chocolates when he comes back from Belgium. Ever since I was little I remember him taking her to dances. They had date nights often. When the church didn't do as many dances, they found a contra dance group and began going to those once a month. They still have frequent date nights and he still takes my mother dancing.

When I started meeting new male friends, I could usually tell their character right off the bat. Whenever I would learn something new about someone promising, I would often think, "my dad would like this about him" or "my dad would like that about him". And if ever I thought the opposite, I wouldn't even bother talking to that guy again. That is how much my dad means to me.

I love you Dad!!! Happy Father's Day!!!

circa 1978, approx...


Alice in Wonderland said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Father! He seems to be a fantastic man. My Dad was a "tink" too, and fascinated with steam engines.
Fathers are often taken for granted these days.
I knew about your Amish connections, but you never write much about them.
I know that I would love to learn more! I think that it is the romance about them that fascinates me, although it mustn't have been an easy life for them.
But Fathers are Fathers all over the world.
Hope that he has a fantastic day!
Big, big hugs!

mrbusdr said...

Again I am speechless. Thank you, Not So Usual.

Susie said...

Happy Father's Day:-)

Tulsi said...

Fun Post!! And I had totally forgotten about Tang!!!

Puphigirl said...

I remember those truck rides. We thought we were so cool riding in the big rig.

I also liked that he would be one of the charter bus drivers for our school trips.

Oh, I am well aware of the townspeople knowing Dad. Once, I was pulled over for speeding and the cop said, "You're Sam Miller's daughter, aren't you?" He didn't give me a ticket, but he beat me to the house to tell our parents on me.

okeydokeyifine said...

Yean, or Amen, or You got him pegged. I have thought a lot about him this father's day. One, because he is not here and I miss him and two, because they asked me to sub for a father's day talk and in preparing I thought of all the wonderful things about him. He is quite the man, isn't he.

Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

Sam and I have talked and shared a lot over the past years and I can say I am richer for it. I am better for it and I am grateful to have had the chance to get to know him, to work with him from time to time and to vacation with him. What a blessing to have two dads to bounce my ideas, both good ones and not-so-good ones, off of.