Monday, June 21, 2010
The Non-Running Post About Dad
My dad met my mom when she took one of his classes at Gulf Coast Community College. My dad was a history professor there, teaching Western Civilization and American History. Mom was married at the time with one child (my sister) and Dad was married at the time too. They became friends because Mom worked in his department as some sort of assistant (I think).
Right after Mom had me, her marriage fell apart. Mom could not compete with the drinking, constant tv watching, and the other women in her husband's life. So after 2 kids and 10 years of marriage, they called it quits. Dad also went through a divorce around the same time due to a mean wife. As mom tells it (because Dad doesn't really tell it) his wife was just plain mean to him all the time. And if you know my dad, it is really hard to figure out why or how anyone could be mean to him. He is one of the most easy-going men I know. Probably THE most easy-going in the world.
So these two friends (Mom and Dad) went through something similar at the same time, and I think Dad helped her move at some point in there. Dad's wife began to spread rumors at Dad's place of work, Mom's place of work, and Mom's church that Mom was the reason for Dad's divorce. This was not true, but it caused a lot of ruckus anyway. AND, it pushed two people who were not romantically involved closer together. They spent more time together figuring out what Dad's ex-wife had said to whom and how to put out those fires she'd started.
So what happened? They fell for each other. When Dad asked Mom to marry him, she said she would, but on three conditions.
1. No drinking or smoking. Ever.
2. No TV in the house.
3. He would go to church with her every time the doors were open.
Dad promised Mom he would do all of these things. Not only did he say it, but he did it. And before Mom came on the scene, Dad enjoyed a pipe with a nip of scotch (I like to picture the stodgy, scholarly professor here, reading, smoking a pipe, and sipping scotch in a room full of books).
Dad did not drink again. He did not smoke his pipe. We did not have a TV in the house. And we ALL went to church ALL the time.
Well, back in the day (and possibly still in some places) the Church of Christ had some pretty crazy views on divorce. Or maybe their views on it were not so crazy, but the ways in which they addressed it were. The elders at whatever church Mom and Dad attended said they were "living in sin" and would not allow them to become members. So Mom and Dad went from church to church until they found one where they were "allowed" to become members, but Dad couldn't lead a prayer, teach a class, serve the table, anything of that sort.
To me, it seems ugly and humiliating to have a group of men look you in the eye and tell you that you are not wanted there. Men who claim to follow and model their lives by that of Jesus Christ, no less! If I would have been Dad, I would have said, "Forget it." I would have told them what power-hungry, ignorant hypocrites they were and walked out. Furthermore, while Dad believes in God and that Jesus Christ is His Son, he does not agree with every claim of the church of Christ, or that it is necessary to attend church at all. And yet... he promised.
Not only did he go along with something he did not think was necessary (church attendance), he did it despite being treated so badly. All because he told Mom he would. He promised.
So let's recap. Dad married a woman with two young daughters and gave up his pipe, his occasional nip of scotch, his television, and he went to church with her despite his feelings on the subject.
And then there was me. I was only a baby when they married, so from the day I looked around and knew who was who, he was there. When I got a little older and had questions about everything under the sun, I wanted to know why my last name was different than his last name. I knew about my biological father, and I still saw him from time to time. But Dad was my dad, and I wanted to put that in writing. So he adopted me sometime before the 2nd grade and a little girl named Erika Jane Titus became Erika Jane McGuire.
Dad took care of me. He made my lunches for school. He drilled me on my spelling words. He played Candyland and Connect Four with me. He took me to the library. He disciplined me (and believe me, I required a lot of it) and he never stayed mad at me.
He let me have a cat, and he hated cats. He let my cat and my sister's cat have baby cats in the garage for a grand total of 11 cats. And he HATED cats.
He taught me to drive. He showed me the importance of doing my best in school. He bought me a truck, a huge dog, and sent me to college.
Then he let me go to China. And when I came back to the states with nothing but the truck he'd bought me, he helped me get on my feet.
This list is nowhere near exhaustive and is never ending to this very day, but it is a good list all the same. He still does a lot for me and my husband. He still proof-reads all of my papers for school. We have good talks about all sorts of things from the trivial patterns of the weather, to politics and good books.
The point is my dad is amazing. He is the most intelligent, laid back, responsible, wise, contented, humble, interesting, kind man I have ever known. I have always believed, even from a very young age, that my dad was the greatest gift God gave to me (besides his own Son, of course). In my eyes, it was God's way of saving me from a thousand wrong paths, just by putting this man in my life.
When it comes to running (you knew I was going to mention it), Dad thinks my mom and I are masochistic, nutty, crazy women - along with the rest of the running population. And yet, Dad supported Mom all the way through her goal to run a marathon in all 50 States. He may not have attended every race (preferring only those that took place out west), but he let her go. And when I picked up the sport, he rolled his eyes, told me I was just like my mama, and cheered me on at every race he attended.
I've written enough on the subject, I'm sure, and have still left out a thousand good stories in between. But you get the idea. I really do have the BEST DAD in the world.