Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers' Day 2010 : A Tribute to Dad

My Dad died June 5, 2004, just before Fathers' Day that year. At age 47, I became a man. Suddenly realizing that I was the Patriarch of the Family. Talk about being hit with a clue by four! Needless to say, it was a tough Fathers' Day that first year without Dad there. Subsequent Fathers' Days have been a mixture of celebrating my role as a Dad and missing the man who was my "Dad Role Model". Cecil Earl Shoemaker, Sr. was a truck driver for over 40 years and he fit the bill perfectly - 5'10", 200+ pounds (due mainly to a watermelon-sized belly), short hair and a Country Boy from Troup, Texas. Like most, if not all, truckers of the day, Dad was not an educated man, but he damn sure wasn't stupid. He may have sucked at algebra, but the man could build a small block Chevy engine blindfolded, in his sleep with one hand tied behind his back. I've seen him do it and it was amazing - well..not the blindfolded, one hand stuff, but the man could put some serious hurt on a car motor. The Old Man loved hot rods and customized older cars, especially '57 Chevys. To this day I can not see an old car that's all gussied up without cracking a big smile and thinking of Dad. It's warm feeling. Come to think of it, the world would be a much better place if it was populated by guys like my Dad who loved old cars. I believe we'd have more warm memories and much less conflict - except on the quarter mile drag strip.
As I have mentioned in other forums, my Dad started a new family as he entered his 50's. First came Adam in 1989. Sara, the new apple of Dad's eye, followed  five years later. Think about it. Here's a man who, after literally millions of miles in an 18 wheeler, should've been thinking about buying a lake lot somewhere and fishin' til the Good Lord called him Home. Not surprisingly, Dad cherished a second family and the chance to become a better Man and Dad. And he did. The lake lot would have to wait. Sadly, it never came.
I'll never forget the morning I found out that he'd died. I was getting ready for work when I saw my sister Cheryl pull up in my driveway. At first glance that doesn't seem so odd. But. It. Was. She was coming in from Arlington. Unannounced. The alarms in my head went off like a World War II air raid siren and I instinctively knew that he was gone. Dad had been in the hospital for a few days for some routine tests. But when Cheryl pulled up and I saw the look on her face, my worst fears were confirmed...before we ever spoke a word to each other. Dad was gone. Not like we had planned just the day before he went in for the tests. The Fishin' Trip That Never Was. If the dude didn't want to go fishin', he could've just called ! (See what I did there, Dad?)
Six Fathers' Days without my Dad and I still feel like the little boy he took fishin' or showed how to precisely put head gaskets on a 300 horse 327 on this day. That, in short, is how I remember my father. I thank God every day that I carry his name, passed it on to his first Grand son and only hope to be half the man Cecil Earl Shoemaker, Sr. was. I'm tryin', Dad. I think you'd be proud. I love you.

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