It happens every year around this time. Everyone thinks their father was remarkable, a miracle worker. As Father's Day approaches, I can't help thinking of mine.

Imagine rising at 5 a.m. every day, driving 90 minutes to work, laboring from 8 until 5 with time off for lunch, that is if there was time, and then driving back through big city rush hour traffic expecting to reach the peace and soliloquy of home and a good hearty country meal only to be greeted by 10 babbling kids ranging in ages from the terrible twos to teenage hood, each with a different problem of their own, along with a harried, frazzled wife who may, at times, wished she had stayed single, and be expected to maintain your sanity.

My father did it every day for years and looked forward each day to returning home where his brood seemed to grow by leaps and bounds. Dad loved the country, the wide open spaces, the fresh air, the trees, garden fresh food and everything that went along with living on a large farm. Far away from the rat race of the city, it was his freedom, his peace, his solace. He understood that the rest of the chaos and confusion was the price he expected to pay for that cherished freedom.

Dad looked forward each spring to planting his sweet corn, a delicacy he enjoyed like no one else I've ever known. His favorite was the white Silver Queen. He'd plant rows and rows of it. In later years he did take a shining toward the Bread and Butter, but that yellow and white corn never moved his tasty Silver Queen from the top of his corn list.

I look back now at what that man went through to raise us kids and I marvel at his talent. He'd originate entertainment from ideas to keep us amused. Once he mowed a big meadow, grown high with weeds, just to build us a ball field. And he did it with a second hand push mower that was advertised in the classified section of the evening paper. Dad often said he needed it to keep the field in good shape for his team. With ten kids, he claimed he had enough for a team and a pinch-hitter.

He loved the changing of the seasons, especially fall and winter. Mother Nature's own Jack Frost was his favorite artist, painting a myriad of colors on the hickory, maple and walnut leaves and so many other species of trees that grew in the White Oak Valley where we lived. He once told me that no artist, living or dead, had ever been able to equal the natural color changes that take place each fall, and no one ever will. He was truly in awe of the brilliant color changing of leaves.

In winter he'd marvel at the changing landscape as big snows blanketed the countryside. He enjoyed taking us kids with him after the storms had passed to share with us the beauty of fresh fallen snow. So intrigued was he of weather that during late spring and early summer storms he'd sit with us kids on the big farmhouse roof-covered front porch for hours watching the wild formations lightning bolts made crossing the night skies.

Dad left us, the victim of a massive heart attack, at far too young an age. It will be 30 years ago next week when my 75 year old father passed away and I still think of him, especially around Christmas, his birthday and mostly Father's Day. The camaraderie and bonding we formed was meant to last a lifetime and then some, and it is.

Raising a large family such as ours, he, with the help of my mother, did a remarkable job. For a man who passed on to us all he knew, family meant everything to him. When I look back now and realize how none of us turned out badly (although the jury may still out on yours truly), I recognize that my father, who was stone deaf, was not only remarkable, but truly was a miracle worker.

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