On Mother's Day I wrote about being the youngest of six children. My mom tells the story that after getting pregnant she worried I would be lonely and would want someone to hang out with so maybe they should have a seventh child. My dad promptly told her that he would be my friend so there was no need for number seven. Joking or not, he kept that promise. Sunday afternoons were our time to explore museums or do stuff together. We often wandered the grounds of Cranbrook or went to the science museum there. He took pictures and we would work in the darkroom together. In my memory I was a big help, but looking back, maybe he was just being very patient with me.
Besides being fun to spend time with, he's practically Google. I could ask anything and he always had an answer. "When did World War I end?" "Where is Timbuktu?" "What is escargot?" Yup, he knew. If he didn't, he knew where to get the answers. One of the reasons I read on such a wide number of topics is wanting to possess the same wide base of knowledge that he had.
During all those afternoons spent together I learned so much from him. Not just about facts, but about how to live. He worked hard in a tool dye shop for a very long time, but he liked it. Sure it was work, but he never spent Sunday night complaining about going back to work on Monday. He would talk about what they were doing in the shop with interest and took pleasure in his work. When I was in college he switched from 50+ hour weeks to working "only" 40 hours per week and he was telling people he was semi-retired. He showed what it looked like to do all things for the glory of God, by working without constant reminders of all his sacrifice.
Despite working all those hours he always took time for hobbies. He ran, rode his bicycle, and for the majority of my childhood he was a photographer. His work is unique and he has won multiple awards and even sold some of his work. Despite the success, it was always something he wanted to enjoy. He's been asked to do wedding photos and photograph products for catalogs, but then it stopped being fun so he said no. It wasn't about the money. It was about the personal gratification he took from those activities. We've decided he's actually the OG hipster because he was doing all the cool stuff before it was cool. Long beards, cardigan sweaters, iced coffee, pinhole photography, he did it all. Not because he wanted to fit in or because he wanted to keep up with any appearances. It was for him.
In this way he reminds me of one of our favorite artists, Vincent Van Gogh who said, "What am I in the eyes of most people -- a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person-- somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then -- even if that were absolutely true, then I should like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart." I know that my dad is not a nobody, but he didn't focus his life around being a somebody so his life demonstrated what he had in his heart.
Thanks dad for being great example and a great friend.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."