My Hero Is My Dad
© Copyright 2023 by Lydia Seales-Fuller
Photo of Luydia and her dad
chose to speak about my father. He deserves to be the focus of a
discussion about heroes and worthy men. This manuscript contains
reasons why my father is my hero. As you read, I hope you agree with
me that he was a one-of-a-kind person. There are many details that I
just could not include. If you have an opportunity, please reach out
and ask. I have much more to say about him.
He was raised by his mother as an only child, but he had an older sister. My father grew up wealthy. His sister did not. His mother was a cosmetologist and the sweetheart of a married man. The wife of the man did not wish to free him, so he remained married to her only on paper, but his heart belonged to my grandmother. My father did not appreciate the situation. He despised the man for preventing his mom from finding a respectable life.
Additionally, he found religion and was very self-righteous. (by his own admission) . His mom tolerated him, but she made it clear that the man was responsible for his good schooling, the house that she owned, and all the good things he enjoyed. She did not want him to treat the man with disrespect. She would rather he be appreciative and grateful.
When he was nineteen, he met and married my mom. She was just one year older than him. My mother was the opposite of my dad in many ways. She grew up very poor, he was prosperous. She had a great relationship with her siblings, he only made peace with his older sister after my mom encouraged him. She was friendly and outgoing with lots of friends, he was stern and quiet and did not really have any close friends before their marriage. While he was from the city, she was from the country. Her mother could have been the parent of his mother. Her mom was fifty when she was born.
They got married and he chose to stay in South America instead of migrating to the US. His mom migrated to North America and left the house for him. That is where six of his seven children were born.
My father was a welder, a designer, and very good with his hands. He worked in a shipyard as a foreman and then as a manager over men who repaired the hulls of ocean-going vessels. Then he got a job with the Japanese in a company where they made nets for trawlers - fishing ships.
My dad was a quick learner of the workings of the intricate machines that weaved the nets. When he learned the business, he became a manager and he helped many of my mother’s friends by hiring their sons for jobs in the company. He taught them the work and they in turn learned and taught others. The Japanese loved my dad. He was honest and hard-working and brought honest hardworking men to the job.
Many years after, my father was removed from his job when the government of my country changed. The government bought the Japanese out and placed their own men in the top positions. Most of them knew nothing about the running of the business. My father was given the command to teach a young man the ropes in six months then he had to pack up and leave.
Let me tell you what my hero did. He created a business that no one else had and he became a necessity to the community. He started up a sharpening business. He sharpened knives, barber scissors, axes, saws, sewing/tailors’ scissors, and machetes (my country is a sugarcane country). He also sharpened the cutter in meat mills that create ground meat.
My two brothers had already married and left home to live in far parts of the world, he therefore taught all his daughters the job. Some of us became very skilled. There were copycats who tried to do the same as my dad and they charged less for the work, but my father was very detailed and precise in his delivery. Most of his customers remained with him and brought more people.
Daddy extended the services he offered. Not only did he sharpen items, but he replaced broken handles with custom-made handles using PVC. He made excellent saw, knife, and machete handles using PVC. He would go to places where PVC pipes were cut and left as scrap. He would heat it, flatten it then draw his patterns and cut them out. He would then proceed to smoothen and shape the most comfortable handle on a saw, knife, or machete. People valued the work my father did.
The sad thing about family businesses is that younger family members don’t always want to carry on a beautiful business. So, after forty years of owning and overseeing the running of the Sharpening Center and its branches, my father sold it for a few million dollars. All the daughters except for one married and left the country. We could not run the business from afar. And Daddy’s vision and hearing started to fail him.
The legacy he left for us, however, is this: each of us has a business or businesses that we own. So instead of us working for someone, we make sure that we give jobs to others.
He taught us to find something we are good at and then provide it exceptionally at a price. One brother does beautiful woodwork, and the other brother has a business catering events and importing anything you want from cars to computers. One sister owns a juicing business, and she provides holistic care to her community. Another is a masseuse. She does lymphatic massages and colon cleanses. Two sisters each own a computer service business in different parts of the world. I am a nurse consultant, nutrition consultant, and wannabe writer.
Now let me tell you about my dad as a parent. He was strict, stern, and strong. Rudeness, lying, stealing, fighting, swearing (not even hell!) and laziness were not tolerated in my family home. Both parents disciplined us. They abided by the scripture “Spare the rod, Spoil the child.” Therefore, we all have stories about scolding, spankings, and a variety of punishments. After a while, my dad and mom just had to look at us and we would straighten ourselves.
My father was a wonderful provider, teacher, protector, and parent. As an adult, I came to appreciate how devoted to fatherhood he was. He arranged to have his vacation at the same time we had our vacation from school. We would always go somewhere new in the country or somewhere interesting. We were able to learn so much about our country because of the trips my dad arranged for us. When I go on vacation, I can’t imagine taking children with me. How will I relax and enjoy myself? Don’t look at me like that, I don’t have any children.
My dad took all six of us on vacation and when my surprise baby sister was born, he took all seven of us. He made sure that when we returned to school, we would have something rich to share about ‘What I did when I was on holiday.’ He took us to tour soda bottling, cookie making and packing, and fish packing factories. We saw how molasses come from processing sugar cane at a rum distillery. We saw a brewery in action, toured a papermill, a large ocean-going vessel, and we toured a lighthouse. We were privileged to go into a bauxite mining site and a gold mining site. We were permitted to observe how rice comes from the field to the table, we saw the ladies grading shrimp by size and blast-freezing them for export to other countries. We saw how soap was made; we toured a textile factory and saw the weaving, coloring, and grading of the cloth. All this made us appreciate the people who did these jobs. We truly looked forward to the long July-August vacation time.
Another way that he proved to be a stellar dad was his sewing. Both my parents spent time learning to sew then they got Vogue and Sears Roebuck pattern books. They would buy a big bolt of cloth and then make dresses, shirts, pants, hats, and bags for all of us. I hated how it made me feel like I was part of an army. No one asked me how I felt. I am number five of the seven. The only other time I saw a large group of children wearing the same color clothing was in the movie Sound of Music.
Here is another way my dad shone brightly as a father. He never hurt our mother with unfaithfulness. He visibly loved her. We saw him bringing her flowers he either picked himself from our yard or that he bought. He would bring home some small trinkets or a big item. He wanted her to know he was thinking of her while out there. We did not know or appreciate it then, but they made our home emotionally secure.
My dad would tell Mom about women at work who were pursuing him. He would tell her what they did and what he did. Both shared what happened during their day. It was not superficial. All the children had to share our day too. This allowed us to tell anything that was good or bad in our day. We also had two meals together, breakfast and dinner.
My dad took us fishing regularly. This was a very special time. Mom hated fishing so it was just us and him. Can you imagine sitting with six children very quietly and successfully catching some big, tasty fish? I can personally say there is something about fishing with your dad. I found myself telling Daddy many things that I held inside. I don’t know if it is the quietness of the environment or the water, but it was easy to talk to him. What I look back on and truly value is that my dad was always available to us.
He even had one of his teacher friends teach him the mathematics we were learning then he helped us with our homework. He made sure we did our homework. We had a reading schedule at home. Then we discussed what we read.
He knew that he would not always be around to save his five daughters from harm, therefore, he taught us valuable lessons to remain safe. Both parents taught us to value ourselves. To respect others, not to look down on those less fortunate. He taught us that if someone grabs us and demands we remain quiet or they would shoot or stab us, we must not freeze in fear but scream and fight with everything. Most times that person does not want to shoot you or stab you they just want you to be quiet so they can take you away. We were to avoid that at all costs.
Both parents taught us to save money. We had to give them back a small percentage of our weekly allowance. At the end of the year, we were shown how much money we saved. It was glorious. I loved seeing that big amount of money. That made most of my siblings and I money savers.
The one thing that we celebrated in a large way was my parents’ wedding anniversary. We made a big deal about this. Even after we all left home and married, we would travel back home to South America from wherever in the world we lived to celebrate this occasion with them and our spouses. One of the features of the celebration was dancing. My parents were very accomplished ballroom dancers. As far back as I can remember, my dad would teach us by making us stand on his feet then he would dance and tell us what and where he was going. I love ballroom dancing.
For thirty years I did not appreciate how wonderful my parents were. I took many of the things they did for us for granted. After I left home and saw how other people’s parents treated them. I began to realize that all the things I thought of as normal and ordinary were special and rare.
My husband’s mother was a very young girl when she became pregnant. She did not know how to care for a child, so she gave him away. Later, she married someone and had eleven children with him. His dad also married another person, and he had three daughters with her. None of the two parents ever cared for my husband. He grew up in a house with many cousins fending for themselves. He told me many horror stories of his growing years. Things I never had to deal with as a child.
This intensified my gratitude for my parents and the upbringing I had. It also opened my eyes to the fact that many individuals have been injured while quite young due to their childhood experiences. I will never assume again that everyone had parents like mine. Some never had the nurturing I had. This makes me more compassionate toward such people. It also makes me treasure what my dad and mom did for us.
I made it a habit to call my dad and just say thank you. I told him why I was saying thank you and that I could never repay him and Mom for all they did for us.
My father is now eighty-seven. In 2012, one month before their fifty-fourth wedding anniversary, my mom died. She suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for eleven years. Again, my father shone. When my mom was first diagnosed, my father took her to four different countries for him to accept her diagnosis. She had an early onset of the disease.
My dad would still come home, hold my mom's hand while sitting next to her and he would tell her about his day. There were times I swear she was following the conversation. She sometimes laughed, looked shocked, or even grimaced according to whatever he was telling her. Very early in the disease, my mother lost the ability to talk.
Daddy paid for 24 hours of care for Mommy right at home. He did not have any long-term care insurance. Our country did not have that provision. He paid out of pocket for my mom’s care.
After Mom died, many of her friends came to visit my father. Some of them made it obvious that they were interested in my father as a mate. They brought bread, stews, baked goods, and many other things a sad widower would treasure. Daddy took the items offered with appropriate gratitude, but he remained steadfast in his devotion to the memory of Mom.
Let me say this, if he remarried, we would not have objected. We love him and know that he deserves to be happy. It was his choice and his choice alone that he remains single. I do remember hearing my dad crying when mom died and he said, “She made me human, she was my best friend. What would I do without her?” It has been eleven years and still painful. But he is steadfast.
My dad is not well anymore, he has lost 2/3 of his weight. It hurts me to just look at him. When I hug him, I must take deep breaths to prevent myself from crying a torrent. There is not much to hold on to. His heart is troublesome. I must make international flight plans whenever I want to see my father. I traveled at least 5 times last year. I have seen him three times this year already. I do believe that visiting while a parent or any other family member is alive is better than flying home to a grave site.
I love my dad very much. I hope you at least like him too.