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Big Shoes to Fill

Sunday is Father’s Day and I will be on a giant family vacation at the beach. I know there will be a million tributes to amazing dads out there, but I feel like my dad deserves an honorable mention here.

Christmas 1976

As a little girl I always wanted to be a teacher. Always. In the summer, I would play school with my little sister and our babysitter’s daughter. When they didn’t want to play, I played with my dolls. (How attentive and well-behaved they were!)

My dad didn’t influence me to become a teacher, but he did influence me to become a special education teacher. He is not a teacher, in so many words, but he introduced me to working with those with disabilities and he showed me that everyone can learn.

Professionally, my dad works in the field of social work. He has used his social work skills in jobs at the Bureau of Vocational Resources and Goodwill Industries.

He’s also done a variety of other things as he is somewhat of an inventor and adventurer….he’s owned a racquetball court, worked with a team of guys developing an all-terrain vehicle, worked with the Earthwinds team on a hot air balloon that would travel around the world, built several homes (including a dome home he currently lives in), sold portable hot tubs (Softubs), and created several of his own inventions (one is a machine that sucks up styrofoam packing peanuts).

When I was in high school, my dad was running a window blind company. I worked in the office and on the floor cutting and sewing vertical blinds. He employed only a few people besides me and his good friend, who is also my godfather. The others he hired all required job coaching and vocational rehabilitation. I do not know all of their specific disabilities as my dad’s goal was to simply help them gain and then keep employment so they could be independent. I do know one man was hearing impaired. Yes, a deaf man working in a blind factory….Sounds like the start of a joke, right?

In all seriousness though, every time I was interviewed after college, my answer to “How did you decide to go into special education?” always came back to working for my dad.

For the last 20 years, I have witnessed both the philosophy and actions of a caring and wonderful man and have tried to apply it to my job as a teacher and mother.

My dad shows compassion towards others. Towards everyone….even ex-family members. I wish I could be more like him in this regard. When I am around him it is hard to speak ill of anyone. I have never seen him get upset with anyone, unless they hurt his children and even then, he doesn’t react in a angry way. I think, if anything, he is more disappointed in human behavior and the choices people make than he is angry.

My dad believes in providing opportunities for everyone. This is obvious in the work that he does daily at Goodwill. He works long hours and goes above and beyond what he is expected to do, because he wants to do it. I asked him recently if he had any plans to retire and he told me that it is not in the near future; as long as he loves his job he sees no reason to leave. He also volunteers his own time to ensure this equal access to those in our community. He has obtained many grants for our local theater to make it handicap accessible so that everyone can enjoy the productions.

My dad supports everyone’s dreams. He never says “You can’t.” or ‘You shouldn’t.” He says, “Give it a try.” He comes to every one of my son’s coach pitch games and sits with me. We joke about not knowing the score and sometimes we secretly wish for the game to end, but he is always there cheering him on.

My dad is proud of my accomplishments and never for a minute doubts that I can’t do what I set out to do. He’s seen me go through some tough times, but he always believed I would come out on top. And I have.

My dad is not afraid to make mistakes and is able to laugh at himself. In fact, that is what makes him who he is. If you know my dad, you need no explanation.

My dad has a quirky, but wonderful, sense of humor and loves to make people laugh. Prime example, the bench he designed for my son’s room:

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Yes, those are my dad’s shoes. Size 22. Ok…technically they are his, but not the ones he wears. I am guessing he is about a size 9? He found these at a store and bought several pairs, envisioning all the great things he could make with them.

I keep a pair of these size 22 Nikes in my classroom…as a conversation piece. The kids love them and the boys have all tried them on at one time or another. They love it the most when I try on my dad’s shoes and “gracefully” walk around the room. As you can imagine, I have big shoes to fill.

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I love you!

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6 responses

  1. […] I spy with my little eye…a great big shoe! […]

  2. absolutely beautiful.

    1. Thank you! I showed him my blog and his special post tonight after dinner. 🙂

  3. Such a sweet tribute!!

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