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I had a completely different topic in mind for this week. Then my dad had a heart attack. Events like that tend to take your mind off other topics, and I find that writing about stressful times is very cathartic.

I always tell my students that they will become like their parents someday in some way. Much like I would have done at that age, they shake their heads vigorously and deny that possibility. I didn’t realize how like my dad I am until my late 20s.

Dad was playing with my daughter Jayna when she was very young. I mentioned to Mom that I didn’t remember him ever playing with us kids a lot. 

She told me how many overtime hours Dad used to put in at the grocery store so Mom would be able to stay at home with us and not have to work. Once I realized that, it put a lot of things into perspective. 

While Dad encouraged my sports enthusiasm, I don’t recall a lot of times playing catch when I was young. He put up a basketball hoop for me, but I don’t remember playing a lot of Horse. Now it made sense.

My dad became my hero that day. I also realized just how alike we are, which was something I had not even considered before.

Dad is known by seemingly most of the 13,000 people in New Ulm. He’s called Rondo by the girls he coaches in softball and the Old Sheepherder by the people who listen to his weekly radio show on KNUJ. 

Dad volunteers a lot of time with different organizations and with his church. He’s been retired for a little over a year now, after 46 years of working in grocery, and he seems busier than ever.

He seems to relish in his notoriety, but doesn’t seek out fame in any way. It’s impossible to go anywhere with him and not run into somebody who recognizes him, and that’s not just in New Ulm.

That day, I recognized some of those traits in me. I also know there was some part of me, subconsciously, that was trying to be like my dad when I moved to New Richland. 

There are certainly a lot of people that know who I am. My wife and kids say it’s hard to go anywhere with me, since I end up seeing someone I know and talking for a while.

I’m not as good a person as my dad, though. Sometimes, I really enjoy this small measure of fame; it’s nice to be recognized. But he gives me a standard to strive for, and I hope I have him around for a long time yet to set the example I need.

I wasn’t raised to show much emotion; I don’t know how much I’ve ever told my dad that I love him. 

I regret every time I had a chance and didn’t say that. If your dad is still alive, please tell him that you love him and recognize just how much of him is in you. It’s an enlightening experience. 

Dad is home now and well on his way to recovery!

Word of the Week: As I typed my first paragraph, I used a word that I’ve found myself using more and more in stressful situations: cathartic. Cathartic means tending to purge, as in, “Writing about my dad is very cathartic and helps me relieve some of my stress.”  Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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