My parents have suffered a lot in their lives. They gave up a lot, stepped up, and took care of their family.
My parents were teen parents; mom was 16, dad was 19 or 20. After living separately for a year after my sister was born, they got married. My dad worked a crappy job to pay the rent and other necessities for my mom and sister.
After being together like this for several months, his grandma gave them $6,000 so that he could go to school. They uprooted to Laramie, Wyoming, when my sister was two, and six months later my dad received his certificate to be a diesel mechanic, a career that has taken him places and sustained our family for decades.
Then, he got a job in Chicago and they lived in a suburb of Chicago for several years, during which time my brother and I were born. He eventually got a position at RUAN in Davenport, IA and we moved south to live near our grandparents. My dad was laid off for a short time during which he worked at Crouse Cartage Company and MAC, just to make ends meet. He finally was hired back at RUAN for a few years before being laid off again. This time he was given an option: transfer to another location or take the severance package. He chose the first option and in August 2000, our parents moved us, all SEVEN of us, across the country to Denver, Colorado, where we are still today.
He kept his job here with RUAN until 2002, at which point he finally got laid off and was hired on to another local company. He worked there for several years before taking a contractor position in Iraq in 2007. He was there for one year before he returned home and ended up working at the airport for peanuts. He was desperate to get out of there, though, and in 2009, he headed back overseas, this time to Afghanistan.
He was over there for more than a year without coming home. He finally came home for good in June 2013. He maintained no job for six months, during which time he worked around the house, restored his tractor, spent time with my sisters and his grandsons, and with my mom.
He went back to work on January 2, 2014, and is planning to work as long as he can.
He has rarely taken a break from work. When he wasn’t at his job, he was doing something around the house. He has done more back-breaking labor than I’d be able to accomplish in two lifetimes. He never quit what he started and he never told anybody “No.” He’s the person upon whom I base every relationship I’ve ever had. They never quite stacked up when we were together. And my dad is very happy with that.
I don’t know where I’d be without him, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near Denver, Colorado.