Wednesday, October 16, 2013

More on Dad

Dad and the Sampson family guard dog

So if you don't know my dad, it's important to state up front that while we're alike in some ways (long legs, tall) we are very different in other ways. In a nutshell, he's nicer.

 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.

Some history...
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.

Classic Dad
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.


  1. He sounds like a real gentleman- and there are precious few left these days. He also sounds a lot like my dad, and I have to thank you for writing this. It is a sad and urgent reminder to me to appreciate the guy I took for granted all those stupid young years- and to enjoy him every minute now while he is still around and kicking. I have a feeling this post, this series of posts, will have that effect on many of your readers. So now I'm going out to hug my horse and call home, though not necessarily in that order.....

  2. Your Dad reminds me of mine in many ways. Those high moral values and caring about other people is often lost today. We were lucky to have been raised by such good people.

    The best tribute we can pay to our fathers...and mothers is to pass it on.


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