I began helping my father on his houses after I turned thirteen and continued to help him well into my twenties when he finally got out of the business altogether. At first he gave me simple tasks to complete, like painting, but as I grew older he entrusted me with more complex tasks. I learned a great deal from my father during those years, not just about construction and the virtue of hard work, but about the importance of family and life in general.
I have many wonderful memories of the two of us working side-by-side on everything from pouring concrete foundations to putting up drywall on interior walls. During these times we would discuss everything from my school work to the old Western films we sometimes watched together on the weekends. He enjoyed and appreciated my company while we worked together, and I felt fortunate to have the chance to work with him for the sake of the family.
I have always had a deep respect for my father's work ethic and his dedication to his family. You see, he did not have to work so hard. The salaries he and my mother earned were enough to keep us all clothed and fed, but my dad chose to put in the extra work because he wanted to give his family every chance to succeed in life. And for that I am immensely grateful.
My father is now seventy-three, but his love of work and commitment to family has not diminished a bit. He is currently visiting us from Canada. As he has done for each of the past three summers, he is helping me with my own ongoing home renovations. I often insist he take it easy and relax while he is visiting us (he is seventy-three, after all), but he will have none of it. He insists on helping me the way I had helped him in my youth. And I am happy he wants to help. The truth is, there is nothing else either of us would rather do than spend time working together for the benefit of the family. It is the tie that binds us.
I am blessed to have had and continue to have such a wonderful relationship with my father, and I cannot even begin to fathom the immense positive influence his love of family has had on my life. I hope I can instill this love of family into my own son, and I hope my little guy will grow up feeling the same sort of father and son bond that I have experienced with my own father.
If he does, I know I will have accomplished something truly special and meaningful.