Friday, March 09, 2007

A Horse Photo Purse in memory of my dad

This photo reminds me of my dad's horse
Chocolate, and her new foal .
This print came from my horse calendar.
Jessie used chalks to make the photo "pop"

Dad with his new born foal
Dad and I on my wedding day

It’s my dad’s birthday today. He would be eighty years old! Eighty? Where have the years gone? I can’t even imagine what he would look like. Would his black wavy hair be gray by now? Would he still be riding horses? Would he still be a volunteer at the Ranch, a place where he enjoyed helping mentally challenged men learn to care for and ride horses? Would he still enjoy going to parades with his kids and eighteen grandchildren? Would he still take pleasure in going to the lake on a hot Sunday in summer?

My dad passed away at the age of 62. Too young. That’s what family, friends and co-workers said at his funeral. Too young? When is it too young to pass away? Is there ever a good age to loose the Patriarch of a family?

I’ve been meditating all week on what kind of man my father was. It’s not easy to sum up his life in a few short paragraphs.

He never liked his first name of Vernon, so to all who knew and loved him, he was Fitz, Uncle Fitz or Grandpa Fitzy.

My dad was a man that put God first, family second and horses third! He went to church every Sunday and would kneel every night by the side of his bed to pray. He loved and served his country proudly. I have his saddle from World War II; he was with the First Cavalry Division. He was also proud of his Irish heritage; traditional St. Patrick’s day decorations, food and green beverages were part of our lives. All of us were given beautiful Irish names…I received the best one!

My father and mother raised eight children, five boys and three girls while fulfilling his dream of being self-employed. He had dropped out of school at the age of sixteen, yet he was a self-taught mechanic, which came in handy when his equipment needed repair. He owned a backhoe, bulldozer, dump truck and a trailer for hauling.
He could fix just about anything with his hands and we all counted on him to be the amazing appliance repairman, plumber and electrician. There may have been spare parts left over when he was finished, but that never bothered him!

He was a man who taught me how to work hard and always do my best. My father never missed a day of work. After years of being self-employed, he took a job with a company that offered him paid sick days, yet he would have never thought to use them.

The arrival of my little sister, number eight, happened two weeks before my parents 26th wedding anniversary. The oldest child had just celebrated his 25th birthday! Wow! Just when he thought Easy Street was right around the corner, here comes more years of parent-teacher conferences!

My dad passed away when my sister Patti, was fourteen, yet at the same time he was Grandpa Fitzy to twelve grandchildren! It always makes me laugh when I reflect on this. My shy dad would blush and shake his head when his friends and family would tease him about his “belated” fatherhood, but I think deep down he enjoyed the ribbing and was quite proud of that accomplishment.

I can only remember one time seeing my dad cry. It was at my brother Tim’s funeral. A sense less murder, he was only 29! Yet my dad never blamed or showed his anger at the accused. Instead, both my dad and mother showed us how to forgive and go on. That God, love and family will get you through anything.

My dad never had the chance to meet my daughter Jessie or hold her in his arms like he did my twin boys. He would love her free spirit and zest for life. I will continue to share stories and pictures with my children and to let them know what an amazing man my dad truly was.

Happy 80th Birthday Dad,
Erin Rose Fitzsimmons-Mueller
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The Crafty-Girl™ said...

such a sweet and moving tribute to your father...hugs.

Nancy E. said...

Erin, I had a tear in my eye at the end of your tribute. Your dad IS so proud of you, I'm sure!

Sarah Moore said...

what a lovely and moving tribute! TFS!

thebeadingmuse ~ said...

What a beautiful way to honor your father, his memory and what he stood for...and means to you. I smiled while reading this. You've penned a glorious story that has touched my heart. Thank you.

Mae said...

Good words.

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