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  • Writer's pictureToni Wilbarger

Best Dad Ever

You know those mugs that say Best Dad Ever? I'm sure every kid who bought one believed it, but no one as much as me. I was 19 before I found out my dad wasn't perfect. (Good job, Dad!)

My dad worked at the same company for his entire career-- started pretty much at the bottom and worked his way up. For several years, he traveled for his job and was away from my mom, sister, and me for weeks at a time. When we were young he always brought back gifts for us. On our birthdays, he took extra time from his job to take us out to lunch, just me and dad or my sister and dad. He let us pick the restaurant.

I remember him trying to help me with math, but the way he learned was not the way the school was teaching us. But hey, he showed me how to use a slide rule. Kids today have no clue what that is!

My dad never did anything without being prepared. When he decided he wanted to join the church choir, he took voice lessons. He'd go into his bedroom, shut the door, and sing along to a tape that his music teacher made for him. We could hear him practicing his scales: "La la la la la la la."

But Dad's greatest trait, I believe, is his humor. Oh my goodness, we can get to laughing! One year, he and his friend George decided they'd bet on who could lose the most weight. They'd compare their efforts every Sunday since George was in the choir too. Then Dad would buy a box of Twinkies and place them on George's chair. George would retaliate with some other high calorie temptation, and on they'd go until the weigh in.

When Mom turned 40, my sister and I thought it would be fun to put 40 candles on her cake. We lit them all, and Dad said, "Wait a minute." Then he got the fire extinguisher, pointed it at the cake and said, "Now we're ready!"

In my teens, I started bantering with him (a practice we continue to this day). He planted grass seed one summer, and I stood nearby talking with him while he pointed the water hose at the patch. He said, "Now you have to moisten these so they'll germinate."

I replied, "So we have to water them so they'll grow?"

"Smart aleck!"

When Dad and Mom drove me to college, Dad gave me all his worldly wisdom as he drove. Eventually, I broke in and said, "Should I be taking notes?" If I remember correctly, all I heard back from him was the sound you make when you stick your tongue out and blow.

Dad enjoyed bowling and golf. He even rolled a perfect 300 game once. He also loved duck hunting and fishing, doing most of that with his brother, Bill. Every October, they'd take a two-week trip to Minnesota. In fact, I planned my wedding around the trip. "Hey Dad, when are you and Uncle Bill going duck hunting?"

"First two weeks in October."

"Great! Then I'm getting married the week after that."

Dad works hard, laughs hard, and loves his friends and family. Pretty sure I got my sense of humor from him. He still sends me jokes via email. So for the million little ways you've shaped my life, I just have to say thanks, Dad. You're the best!

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