My Dad

My Dad

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

My Dad

In every person’s life there needs to be a counselor or a caring, nurturing, encouraging friend. They give people guidance. They give people hope. They help them accept themselves for who they are. They help them set goals. They help them find their purpose. It is truly the work of angels.

Tom Krause

The earliest memory I have of my father is one of me as a young boy grabbing his hand and him guiding me along as we walked together. I’ll always remember that. As I grew older I remember my dad and I listening to the high school basketball games together on our transistor radio. I would write the names of the players on a piece of paper and keep track of each players points as the game went on. I never could stay awake for the whole game because I was still young and I always fell asleep before the game was over. When I would wake up in the morning I would be in my bed and the score sheet would be lying next to me. The score sheet would be filled out with the final score on it completed by my father before he carried me to bed. I’ll always remember that.

I remember the times when my father would bring his bread truck by the house early in the morning on those cold days when I was home from school over Christmas break. I used to ride on the floor of that bread truck as he delivered the bread to the stores. The smell and the warmth from the bread made my mouth water and kept me warm both at the same time. I’ll always remember that.

In high school I became very interested in athletics. My father would attend all my games. My senior year our football team qualified to play in the state championship game. It was the first time in the history of our school. The night before the game my father came to me and sadly told me that he would not be able to attend the game. He had to deliver the bread to the stores and the game was a three hour drive from his route. He said he would listen to the game on the transistor radio. I said that I understood. The next day as game time approached I thought about my dad. As I lined up for the opening kick-off I happened to look across the field into the parking lot. There I saw his bread truck pulling into the stadium. He made the game and we won that state championship. I’ll always remember that.

Years later I had become a teacher and coach. Early one morning my wife and I were awakened by the sound of the telephone ringing at 5:30 A. M. As I struggled to answer the phone I’ll never forget the sound of the sheriff’s voice on the other end telling me dad had just been killed in an automobile accident on his way to work. Cattle from a nearby farm had broken through their fence and wandered onto the highway. Being a dark, rainy morning my father had not seen them as he came over a ridge. The impact spun the car sideways in the highway before a semi-trailer collided with it. I was devastated. I could hear my heart beat in my ears. I hung up the phone and walked back into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. My wife kept asking me who was on the phone but I couldn’t speak. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was say the words, “my dad is gone.” I’ll never forget that.

After that things didn’t really matter to me. I went about my life but I really didn’t care. It was as if someone had taken my heart from my body and I was just a robot. I went to work. I still taught school but I was just going through the motions.

One day I was on the playground at school supervising a first grade recess when something happened that I couldn’t foresee. A little boy walked up to me and grabbed my hand. His hand held mine the same way I used to hold my father’s when I was his age by the last two fingers.

In that instant my father came back to me. In that instant I found my purpose again. You see even though my father was gone he had left something with me. He left me his smile. He left me his compassion. He left me his touch. My purpose was to use those gifts as he did. From that day forward I started. I’ll always remember that!

Tom Krause

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