November 20, 2010

Jerry Rademaker

This one's for you, Dad.

Jerry Rademaker is a great man.  If his mother hadn't named him Gerald Edward, we would have certainly named one of our sons after him.  He is kind.  He works hard.  He is the most peculiar combination of smart and goofy, surprising and predictable, gentle and impatient.  He is good with a spatula and a shaker of seasoning.  He retains gobs of useless information (with a whole lot of useful stuff thrown in).  He is good with babies and son-in-laws and strangers on the street.  He brushes his teeth for an insane amount of minutes every morning, and reads the entire paper on the john while draining two giant mugs of black coffee.  My mom says, "Your father has two speeds: 1,000,000 miles per hour, and asleep."
My dad took me camping every summer as a kid.  He taught me how to put up a tent, and how to take a fish off the hook.  He was home every night for dinner, and every night my brothers and I would run to greet him like we were running to greet the ice cream truck.  Many evenings, while Mom scraped the dishes, I would stand behind him at his place at the head of the table and comb his thick, wavy hair into silly styles that made me laugh.  He used to pay me a nickle a minute (or was it a dime?) to give him a back rub on the couch during the evening news.  Every morning he stands up from the bed and tucks a collared shirt into a pair of pants with a belt, sliding into a pair of navy blue socks with brown loafers, and stuffing his pockets with his billfold, money clip, hankie, hair comb, roll of breathmints, and loose change.  He drives like he has a laboring woman in the backseat who is about to give birth on the floorboard, all the while blaring The Eagles or Hal Ketchum or C.C.R.  He can tell any dumb joke in such a way that has the whole room rolling, and he can look you in the eye in such a way that puts you at ease.
My dad with his sister, Jan, and his brother, Dick
My dad set the standard for me.  I knew that I could never settle for a man who didn't put his family first, who didn't admit when he was wrong, and who quit when the going got tough.  I knew I could not live with a man who didn't laugh, who didn't value children, and who wasn't a good listener.  Jerry Rademaker is a great man.  I love you, Daddy.