A Tribute To Dad

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I was looking for the best photo I could find that would describe my Dad. Of course, my favorite is the one with Dad and me taken by Mom. Dad and I were both dressed for church in front of my 1970 Camero. However, since this tribute is about him, I wanted to find a picture of him alone. I found lots of him with Mom and other family members, but very few by himself. Then after looking through my old pictures and his old albums, I found this one.

Francis J. Heines

This was taken on my sister’s (Martha) friend’s boat in Florida when Mom was still alive. So it was probably in the late 60s. Mom, who liked to write on the back of photos, wrote “What’s that in your hand, fisherman? Bait!”

I love looking at this picture and seeing how relaxed he was. He wasn’t always this way. He worked hard to support his family. He spent his days on the road selling all kinds of parts for televisions and radios. He also sold gadgets including reel-to-reel tape players and later 8-track players. As kids we got to “test” some of these gadgets. I know that my love of gadgets comes from him.

But that’s not to say he wasn’t relaxed at home in the yard after a long day on the road, or on the three vacations we took as a young family. And in his later retired years, I saw this side of him often.

My father had always been an important part of my life. From my first step to his last day, he was always there for me.  I was Daddy’s little girl. He was a strong disciplinarian, but as I aged, he evolved into my best friend.  If I had a question about anything, Dad was the person I would reach out to instead of my husband or friends. If I just needed some acceptance, all I had to do was jump in my car and head to the old homestead. He’d be there ready, with a smile on his face, to tell me stories or listen to my problems.  I knew as long as he was there, I had someone who was on my side, who had my back, and could help me with my many adult-like decisions. He was a jack-of-all trades and he knew the answers to everything. I always felt sorry for the men in my life because they could never hold a candle to my Dad.

Through my early adult years and even in my 30s, he was there to support me in my many house moves (“You’ve move more in 2 years than I did in my lifetime.”),  comfort me after my divorce, and encourage me regarding my employment changes.  With his assistance, I was able to purchase my first house on my own at 30, and a rental house at 32.

Through his illness, he was still my rock. And I was still his little girl. I thought losing my mother at 21 was difficult, but I found out that losing Dad was much harder. I was still Daddy’s girl, leaning on him and his wisdom. Even in his final hours he was concerned about me, giving me his last bit of advice.

So much of who I am is because of this man. Much of what I’ve done in my life, especially running my own business, had to do with him although he wasn’t alive to see that.

Dad loved his family and he loved his baby girl. I still miss him even though it’s been 23 years since he left this place. This picture is how I imagine where he is now – enjoying the sun with the breeze in his hair, sipping on a cool one with Mom at his side and finally knowing the answers to all of those unanswered questions.

Sounds like heaven to me. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.