Pops is my dad. We girls always called him Daddy, then he became Pops after the first grandchild came along. My brother, who has chosen not to have children, still calls him Dad.
I've always admired my dad. He was never terribly affectionate, but he showed his love for us in other ways. He worked hard to provide for his family, and although he must have been very tired when he got home from work, he still found time to play with us. He would crack jokes at the dinner table that would send my younger sister and me into fits of giggles, which earned him a scolding from my mom and earned us a trip to our rooms until we could straighten up. Many times we'd come back to the table only to have to go right back to our rooms for cracking up as soon as we looked at each other again.
He took us to work with him to teach us the value of hard work. I was nine when I started working at his service station. I pumped gas, checked oil, and washed windshields. He taught me how to operate the cash register and how to make change for customers. When someone came in to ask for directions, I listened intently so that I would know how to help people get to where they were going. To this day, I've never been lost, and I have a keen sense of direction. I can even refold a map. I loved to watch him and my uncle work on cars, and I learned how to fix flat tires and how to balance them. At one time I thought I wanted to be a mechanic when I grew up.
He was a patient teacher, and he instilled in me a love for knowledge. He would challenge us with brain teasers, memorization, and math puzzles. He'd have us say the alphabet backwards just for fun. He stressed the importance of education and always encouraged us to read ahead in our textbooks and to work all the problems, not just the ones that had been assigned. He taught himself computer programming, and he taught me about binary numbers before I learned algebra. We had a home computer before home computers were cool. He was always reading and learning something new, and when he said "Come here, I want to show you something" we knew he was going to teach us what he'd learned.
He could fix just about anything, and I loved to watch him take things apart and put them back together. Sometimes he'd let me help. In many ways, my husband is a lot like him.
He has done a lot of things for me over the years, and in his own quiet way he has shown me that my well-being is still one of his greatest concerns. For this I am extremely grateful.
I love you, Daddy.