|Dad and the Sampson family guard dog|
I didn't see notice this so much as a teen as I did as an adult. He's tough on his family, so I grew up in a stern household with a dad who demanded perfect obedience and who did not read Dr. Spock. It was a very disciplined (and sometimes oppressive) home, but it was child-centered for sure. Mom and dad sacrificed for us.
Around other people, dad was anything but stern. Seeing dad from my "adult eyes" was like seeing him for the first time.
Dad grew up during the depression on a dairy farm in Indiana -- a culture all its own as my fellow midwesterners will attest. Although he's lived in the suburbs and worked as a teacher since he was in his twenties, he still has a distinctive "farmer's walk" and demeanor. The same goes for his two brothers -- you can see they are brothers from a hundred paces. He was also subject to the discipline of German parents, but I know he looks back on his youth fondly. He was quite a basketball player and the Indianapolis Star once described Mort Kimmel as a strong all-round player who "did everything but mop up the floor afterwards."
Old school values
Dad is one of the few true genuinely self-effacing people I know -- not shy, not unconfident, just not interested in making an impression or getting center stage. He's smart but you don't see it until there is a problem to be solved -- he was encouraged by profs at Purdue to get his PhD (biology), but he ended up teaching chemistry.
He is a great listener. He talks little about himself and takes an interest in other peoples' lives. Even here at the hospital, he's a favorite of the nurses, always appreciative and uncomplaining, asking about (and remembering) their kids and interests. He is funny in a Will Rogers sort of way, but you have to listen for it. I think he gets underestimated a lot by people who meet him in passing.
The nurses are having a heckuva time drawing blood, and one young woman was flustered and apologetic as she repeatedly poked a needle into his arm, making him him cry out. Dad remained encouraging, and he tried to make her comfortable as she struggled. He joked "third time's a charm" at her third attempt. It's classic dad that he was concerned more about her than the fact that he was a human pincushion trapped in bed.