–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: June 16, 2019
I recently read an article in The Wall Street Journal. The female author wrote a piece on the extended adolescence of males in our country. She asked, “Why is it the men of today seem more like the boys we babysat than the dads who drove us home?” I am blessed to have been raised by a man and not an adolescent. He is an Eagle Scout, military Veteran, and one of those rare individuals whose word is their bond.
My dad, Jim Scheib, is truly a self-made man. Much to the dismay of my surgeon grandfather and pediatrician great aunt, my dad’s pre-med advisor pointed out his aptitude for a career in medicine was lacking but he felt my dad could excel in business. His disappointed surgeon father, now with a business major at the University of Toledo in the family, told dad that he was responsible for his own education. This might defeat lesser men, but it inspired dad. He joined the ROTC to help pay for his education.
Although he credits his inner fortitude for his success in business, I believe we have to give credit to his DNA. Like my grandfather, who had a photographic memory, the man is a walking computer. During a trip to the ER the doctor asked my dad if he had any surgeries. He proceeded to rattle off the procedure and the year it was completed. Jokingly, the ER doc said, “What, no month and days?” To which my father responded, “Oh, I apologize, October 12, 1988 …” Sadly, trickle down DNA skipped a generation but thankfully I have a dad who knows the important dates of my life occurrences better than I do.
My dad was determined that I would know him better than he knew his workaholic father. One of the ways he tried to accomplish this was by making me breakfast at o’dark hundred, which frankly I did not appreciate in my youth. Unlike my sleepy-head mom, who got a viable pulse around 10:30 am, my former military man of a dad hit the floor running. In quick succession he would rattle off breakfast options like a drill sergeant– Oatmeal? Cereal? Waffle?–with little time to respond. I would arrive at the bus stop full of nutrition but with an elevated blood pressure.
One of the most dreaded questions I have ever had to answer from dad is, “How about being my doubles partner?” I would stand there shaking in my tennis shoes as he hit 80 percent of everything that came over the net. When the ball did come my way, I would close my eyes and hope for the best and hit, only to hear a “humph.” I would apologize and then he would say “we got that one!” to which I would ask if he could attempt making a happy sound like “yippee!” His tennis days have passed but he got to relive them through my children. Once he was asked by the tennis ref to refrain from coaching my youngest. He replied, “I’m not coaching. I’m just telling her what to do.” In spite of his intensity for the sport, (all sports) here’s the thing. I had tennis playing daughters because of him. He provided them with lessons. He has always been a big believer in providing experiences, education and memory-making moments for others.
My dad has always been a trooper. He was the fill-in for the Indian Princess camping trip where my youngest threw up on him after consuming an entire package of smuggled Oreos. He also used his mathematical skills to figure out how many times he heard “Hot Cross Buns” horrifically played on wind instruments in school gymnasiums, and how many smoldering days he endured sitting on bleachers yelling “pull” at swim meets. At times, I think he must feel that his days of Army basic training were easier.
One of the many things that dad has said that has always stuck with me is, “The greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.” We recently lost my mom but dad gave us this priceless gift through their 61-year marriage.
I hope my daughters find men that are like the dads who drove us home from our babysitting gigs instead of the ones who act as if they need childcare. I know we have been blessed to have such a man who values community, family, and faith. As Wade Boggs once said, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.”