By Stephen Paul VanDruff
My father is fortunate to have four children, for any less would bear too much responsibility to write a fitting tribute.
My parents married in their mid thirties and I was a surprise pregnancy in their mid forties. I completed the quartet of four mild mannered boys. Yea right!
I'm forty years old as I write this, and remarkably suffer more ailments than my 82 year old dad. He's healthy, sturdy and strong as an ox despite his thin stature. It's easy to credit good genes to a thin person, but I recall my dad showing me his belt when I was a kid and his commitment to never move a notch. If he gained weight, the cutting of his belt on his sides was a constant, uncomfortable reminder through the day to be careful what he ate. This is a typical pragmatic solution for my dad.
My dad was a suit and tie man. We lived on a somewhat busy street and those driving by would rubberneck at the guy behind the lawn mower wearing formal regalia. No kidding, he'd actually wear dress-up attire while he did the yard work. He has loosened up in his later years and changed his formal attire eccentricity to one of exotic, dazzling clashes of checkered and stripe combinations.
My dad was an introvert who preferred the world of design, architecture and engineering rather than social mingling. Fortunately, he married the extreme opposite of this attribute who provided a healthy balance.
Contributing to his desire to retreat from people was severe hearing loss suffered from the roaring engines of his B-24 Bomber in WWII. Hearing loss makes it easy to shut out the world around you, especially if your natural inclination is already to be shy. Yet the Lord showed miraculous transforming power in my dad who--despite his basic nature and the continued decline of his hearing over the decades--has steadily become a warm, friendly, lover of people. A common greeting to friends is a series of five quick "hellos" done in a melodic manner and delivered like a cheerful lullaby, "hello hello hello hello hello". Some of my friends from childhood imitate it to this day.
Dad is always on the move. His brain never stops, nor does his constant desire to be "doing something". I can never recall my dad sitting or relaxing. No hobbies - no sports - nothing self-serving. His modus operandi is to be engaged physically or mentally with something... at all times. He's constantly re-designing and improving the world around him. He can just as easily wrestle with a brilliant invention that would impact the world in one moment, and have the same intensity fixing a squeaky door in the next. Nothing is too grand for his imagination, nor too small or mundane for improvement.
My dad is a lover, and I mean this in the most honorable and poetic way. He loves the Lord, his wife, kids, church and country. He's a lover of freedom and fought bravely for it in WWII. And, he still possesses the same passionate spirit of a war hero. He loves the outdoors, music, good food, architecture, design, and especially... he loves smart, competent people. He loves the world around him as well as the air he breathes, and never a moment passes that he doesn't give unwavering credit and praise to his Almighty Creator.
A compelling study in contrast, my dad passionately despises certain things as well. Primarily, anything that does not honor the Lord. He detests liberalism, communism, tyranny, bureaucracy, abortion and homosexuality. He's intolerant towards laziness, greed, addiction, perversion, and men with no backbone, lack of character or moral integrity. My dad is a genuine guy - what you see is what you get. He's up-front, straightforward, with no hidden agenda. At any time you want, and occasionally sometimes when you don't, you'll surely know his opinion. And, he is also a great admirer of strong opinions, so long as they are in line with his :-)
Dad was a military man, so he was firm in his ideals and methods he used to discipline. The view from my perspective, being the youngest, was that my brothers desperately needed every lickin' they ever got - he even missed a few. I had it much easier since I learned mainly from watching my brother's mistakes and benefiting from their extreme behavior making me seem like a saint, which I wasn't. I believe he was an excellent father and I have learned and adopted a similar style of fatherhood myself by establishing a firm set of boundaries within which I smother my kids with love.
My dad grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, fought for our country, married his dream girl, raised four boys and has stayed a dedicated, loving husband and respected father to this day. He's a virtually selfless, honorable man and someone I love and admire. God showered me with grace by giving me parents of such caliber.
As of 2003, my dad is a vital component in our household with his creative ideas, great attitude, guidance, support, expertise, time, effort, energy and love. He is an incalculable enhancement to our lives and I beam with joy as my children enjoy their "Poppy".
And if you want a pleasurable experience, ask Jean Vandruff to demonstrate one of his signature five "hello" greetings. Unforgettable!
Happy Father's Day Daddio. You wrote the book for this son.
h o m e | p h o to s | n e x t