A Day for Dads

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Fathers’ Day.  A day to honor all dads. I’ve been blessed to have three wonderful dads in my life.

My own father, Allen William Huber, Jr., was born in New Jersey. His childhood wasn’t the stuff of storybooks – unless it was written by Charles Dickens. During the Depression, his father left for a quart of milk and a newspaper and decided to never return. This left my grandmother with three small children and no means of support. All three children had to grow up very quickly. My daddy never dwelt on this during our lives. He kept a keen sense of humor – he may have been the world’s best audience. He rarely told jokes, but loved to laugh at other’s. He would throw his head back, crinkle up his eyes, and just laugh with no reservation. I even saw him laugh so hard sometimes that he had tears in his eyes. I’m glad to say that I inherited his laugh and his love of humor. I really don’t think that anyone who ever met my daddy could have walked away without liking him. He was just that kind of man – soft-spoken, intelligent, and genuinely nice.

Daddy had a permanent disability – a ringing in his ears – caused by a training exercise at Ft. Knox, Kentucky (where I was born, by the way). He didn’t talk about this often, but he did explain to me, when I was quite young, so that I would understand why sometimes he couldn’t hear me. They were getting ready to shoot off some of the large guns when Daddy noticed two young soldiers in an area where the concussion from the guns could kill them. He ran down the hill and jumped on them – knocking them down – just as the guns went off. They were all three safe, but the concussion did give Daddy that ringing in his ears.

I plan to write more about my dad in coming posts so that his grandchildren can learn more about him. Sadly, he passed away before any of them were born. I have two nieces and two nephews who should learn as much about their granddad as they can. I grew up without either of my grandfathers, so I know how badly I missed knowing and hearing about them.

Jim’s Dad, Gus Pappas, is a wonder. He’s 87 years old (turning 88 this month) and a World War II veteran. That he lived to come home, get married, and have three children is truly miraculous considering his service in the war. He doesn’t talk about most of it – too painful still, I reckon – but I do know pieces.

Dad went ashore in Normandy on Utah Beach. He went through some of the worst battles in France (St. Lo, St. Mere Eglise), Belgium (including the Battleof the Bulge), and Germany (Hurtgen Forest and the Rhine). He was with the 298th Engineer Combat Battalion. He helped build the floating bridges that crossed the river. He’s told us about fighting the cold in Belgium in December and about the dangers of “trench foot.” I also know that he was scheduled to leave Marseilles after VE day to head for the Pacific, but got held up just long enough for the war in the Pacific to end. Luckily, they were already on a transport, so instead of heading for the Pacific, they headed home – where years later he met and married my mother-in-law and the love of his life, Jean.

The third Dad I want to honor today is my dear husband and best friend, Jim! No we don’t have human children, but our furkids have a terrific dad. Jim is a great big guy with a heart of gold. He has been “Dad” to seven cats (quite a number, especially considering he was allergic to them), several horses, and seven GSD rescued dogs. If you haven’t read about our dogs, there are earlier blog posts about them all. As I mentioned, all of our dogs have come from other homes/rescues. Most all of them have had some kind of issue. Sydney and Bear are our two current kids. Sydney is terrified of loud noises (firecrackers, etc.)  She also really hates going to the vet. (Okay, I don’t know too many – except our late boys, Blizzard and Chief – who like to go to the vet.)  Bear is still so young (won’t be two until August) that his only fear is the vet and that’s improving.

Jim with Sydney

So, with Fathers’ Day on the horizon, I’ve been blessed with three wonderful “dads!” I’d love to hear about the dads in your life. Won’t you share with the rest of us?

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I’m Thankful For…

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I know, Thanksgiving has past. Where was I? Where was my blog? Well, I’ll tell ya. I’ve been busy with work and having family and friend over for a Thanksgiving dinner. If you’ve never cleaned a house in which live two very active German Shepherd Dogs, you have no idea of the amount of hair, muddy paw prints, and assorted drool to be cleaned to get ready for company. You know what, I wouldn’t trade that for any amount of money.

 

We live in what still is the greatest country on earth. It’s up to us to keep it that way. Remember, if you see a serviceperson, say thanks. If you know a veteran, say thanks. They’re the ones who are or have put it all on the line to keep America free.

It’s always so easy to take for granted health and home – until you lose both. It goes without saying that we are all thankful for these things. I wanted to emphasize some of the things that make my life so blessed.

 

So, first and foremost, I have to say that I’m thankful for my dear husband, Jim. We’ve been together for almost 27 years and I haven’t run him off yet. That’s something to be very grateful for.

I’m thankful for my family – both the one I was born into and the one I got when I married Jim. I don’t get to see my family enough as I’m so far away geographically. Luckily, Jim’s family is right here in Michigan. I get to see them often and it’s always a good time when we get together.

 

Sydney LOVES her Dad!

I’m thankful for my two “kids,” Sydney and Bear. They are such good dogs! Sydney came at a very difficult time for Jim. We’d just lost Liesel to lymphoma, and, while no dog could ever take Liesel’s place, Sydney has been such a wonderful friend for him.

 

da Bear

Bear came at a time when I was so sad. In less than a year we’d lost Liesel, my dearest girl, Guinevere, and then our boy Chief. Sydney was so bonded with Jim. She tolerated me – at the time – but was completely a “daddy’s girl.” I was beside myself. Even Sydney was grieving the loss of her buddies. Then Bear came into our lives. What a ray of rambunctious sunshine!

 

I’m grateful for my job! Having a job – in and of itself – is a blessing in this economy. This is especially true in Michigan. The thing is, I love my job. I work for a company that is doing well by all standards. That’s not all. My coworkers are some of the greatest, most dedicated (yet fun) people I’ve ever met. There’s a true sense of cooperation and shared purpose here. In my former life, it seemed that the plan was to tear/beat you down to the point where you no longer had any sense of self worth. I’m SO thankful that I’m no longer there and that Kalitta Air took a chance on hiring someone with no aviation background but a hunger to learn and a dedicated outlook.

 

My friends! I can honestly say I don’t know how I would have made it through some of the very tough times we’ve faced over the past years without my friends. I have wonderful friends all over the U.S. (many from former and current  work, and my days in the thoroughbred industry). I have made a special new friend who just happens to be the wife of a fellow I work with. I have one very dear friend/sister in England who has shown me so much love and friendship that I can’t even put into words how important she has become to me (and that’s saying something that I’m at a loss for words!)

 

I’ve also recently gotten reacquainted with a whole group of wonderful people – my high school class. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to go to my high school reunion. I can honestly say that our group of crazy kids have turned into a really great group of still-crazy, almost adults. We’re all 50-something, but years and seriousness seem to melt away when we get together.

 

One of the things I’m most thankful for is that, recently, I’ve been able to reconnect with people who are VERY important to me. It’s way too easy to lose those you hold dear. It’s so much harder to get them back. I hope you recognize yourselves in this. One person, in particular, has come back into my life that I missed the most – someone who I never should have lost in the first place. Now that we’re back communicating and keeping up with each other. I vow to never lose touch again.

 

I hope y’all will share with me and other readers things that you are thankful for.

 

 

Up Next: The Joys (?) of Snow

 

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Saying Thanks!

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The entire reason for this post is to say, “THANK YOU!” to all of those who served or are now serving in the military. Today is Veterans’ Day. We should all remember to say thanks every day. It is your sacrifice of time serving our country, away from your families, in war and peace time, that keeps us free.

 

It really hit home just this morning. I said thank you to a coworker who was in the Marines. He told me that he felt funny about accepting thanks because he never saw combat. He felt as though he didn’t deserve the same appreciation as those who are overseas in combat now or who had been involved in past wars/conflicts. (To me, Korea and Viet Nam were wars. Yes, they are called “conflicts” in politically correct lingo, but friends, brothers/sisters, fathers/mothers, and aunts/uncles died in service to us and our country. That is war.)

 

On a personal level, I have a brother who served during the first Gulf War. He spent one career in the Army. He’d gone through college in ROTC and graduated as a Second Lieutenant. He got to live his dream to fly helicopters. (Well, to be truthful, he’d wanted to be a jet jockey but eyesight and a bad knee from sports kept him out of the jets.) He served for more than 20 years. He is now a civilian contractor with the Army, so still is in the business of keeping us safe and free.

 

My father-in-law is a veteran of D-Day. He went ashore on Utah Beach, fought the Battle of the Bulge, was in the Ardennes, and built bridges across the Rhine. He still doesn’t talk about the combat. He will tell stories of the lighter moments (which, surprisingly, there were). Some of the stories – including the dangers of “trench foot” are hard to imagine. To him, these were lighter moments. I guess we’ll never hear about much of it as it’s far too painful for him to remember or discuss.

 

My Daddy served in the 1950s. He was supposed to go to Korea, but an injury to his ears kept him stateside. Basically, he saw two young soldiers in the wrong place. They were in a field down in front of the artillery pieces that were getting ready to be fired. Daddy knew that the concussion from the barrage could kill these two, so he ran out and dove onto them just as the firing started. No one died. My dad, however, was left with a permanent ringing in his ears. No combat for him. He, too, was an individual who felt a little “odd” about being thanked on Veterans’ Day. He felt that, since he never saw combat, his service was somehow less worthy of appreciation.

 

BUNK! He served. He taught young men how to fight and, who knows, his training may have saved some lives. I know his actions at Ft. Knox saved two.

Anyone who puts on the uniform of any of the armed forces is deserving of our thanks and our honor. It doesn’t matter what time frame they served. During war or peace, they chose (or were chosen) to serve. Any of them would have done their duty should there be a call to combat. They all, man or woman, gave up their time – much of it away from family and friends – to take up the charge of protecting us and our freedoms. To them, we owe such a large debt that saying thank you only scratches the surface.

So veterans, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! In my heart, every day is Veterans’ Day!

 

Up Next: Thanksgiving Memories

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