I wrote about the awesomeness of my father in one of my “This Army Life” posts, so you can follow that link and read about how my dad influenced me to join the Army. However, since it is Father’s Day, I figured I might as well write a bit more about the nonfamous, but still very important, Ronald D. Eberhard, my father, who just happens to be the greatest father in the world.
My father wasn’t overly strict, but he wasn’t super nice. In their relationship, my mother was always the more gregarious one. If I remember the story correctly, my mother was even the one that proposed to my dad nearly 50 years ago. But that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a strong person or role model for me growing up. I had a few friends growing up that obviously had different relationships with their fathers. They were all children of divorce, and their relationships with their dads were all different in some way. One friend had every other weekend with his father, one friend’s dad lived in San Francisco, and the other friend’s dad lived outside the home and saw his sons pretty often. I guess in a way it was nice to always have my father around. I never took him for granted and he has always been there to help me, and my siblings, when we need it.
I have a lot of different memories of my father while growing up. The first one was his job with the souvenir company in Salt Lake. This job would require to travel down south to deliver postcards and other various knick-knacks to the national parks in central and southern Utah. Often, he would take us kids along, especially if it was during the summer. We never really got to see any of the parks or anything; my dad told us they were too expensive for him to take us, but it was still nice to spend a few days in the car with him driving around and playing silly games with my siblings. We often used these trips to visit his family as well since we were close by. We were a little bit more removed from his family since they lived so far away, as well as the cast differences in age between my siblings and out cousins, but it was nice to see my dad maintain that tie to his family, even if it was about a quarter of what we saw my mom’s family.
Another memory of my father was our Saturday outings. Usually, my dad worked during the week but usually had the weekend off. When we were kids, he would take us out on Saturday to do various things, like visit Hogle Zoo or go to the Children’s Museum every other weekend. No matter how many times we went to the same place, my father always took us without complaint, toting around four or five of us to give my mother a break from us kids, especially once she returned back to school. Along with these trips, he always took us out to lunch, which for a bunch of poor kids was quite a luxury. He would let us get whatever we wanted and never order anything for himself. As a kid, you never really notice those things, but looking back I never think he had his own food. Luckily for him though, we kids had small appetites, and my dad would always have plenty of half-eaten hamburgers and half-empty fry cartons to choose from. He made sure we never went hungry but always knew that there would be enough for him. In the rare instance that there wasn’t, he could wait until he got home, where often he would finish off the leftovers from the week that we were just to spoiled to eat ourselves.
There are so many memories of my father, and maybe I’ll save a few for his birthday in a few months, but there is one more that I will always remember. My sisters Kathy and Stef were pretty good softball players as kids. My dad would always be available to catch for them. This is not out of the ordinary for most fathers probably, but what makes it a distinct memory is that my father had separated his shoulder playing church softball or something and it never quite healed all the way. It truly was a struggle for my dad to throw the ball back to my sisters after catching it without throwing it underhand. Sometimes, his shoulder hurt so much that he would catch the ball in the glove, take the glove off, and throw it back left-handed. Not perfectly, mind you, but effectively enough. I believe that without my father’s patience and willingness to catch for them that Kathy and Stef would have ever become as great as they were at softball, making numerous All-Star teams and Stef playing in high school for a bit.
For all the memories that I have of my father, the most important thing that he ever taught me was how to be a father, or at least showed me how to treat the children that I might have some day. He always showed us that he loved us in his own special way. It was never overly emotional, but it was unconditional, even through all the struggles that we had. He was an example to me and I know that I am a better person for having him in my life as my father. I will love him forever and always value his advice and counsel. In a way, I am still that child that feels my father can do no wrong and knows everything.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!