Thursday, January 2, 2014

I'm a Man, I'm (Almost) Forty

2014 is a big year. Later this year, I will turn forty years old, which is some sort of milestone I suppose in our "random important numbers in life" series. Let's see--you've got the 1st birthday, which I don't remember very well. You've got the 16th birthday, for mobility reasons. You've got the 21st birthday, which I also don't remember very well. Now, there's 40.

One of the things I hope to do with writing is to express emotions about my dad. I have, in many ways, used writing to run from emotions over the last two years. I write every day, and work my butt off with the website. When you keep yourself really busy, you tend to occupy the brain and avoid those quiet moments of reflection that cause the tears to well.

So it is today, at the start of this year, that I am forcing myself to think about my dad.
My thoughts go to where he was at the same age. When I question the progress and path of my life, I need to remember how much he changed and did after his 40th birthday, even in a life that was cut shorter than we expected.

Throughout my childhood, my dad had worked with the Union Pacific railroad. Many of those years, he worked an out of town run that involved places like Coffeyville, Kansas. He would often work all night then come home and still do things with us.

In his spare time, he also pursued his passion of remodeling and building things. First, he remodeled our house on Topping Avenue in Kansas City. He finished out the upstairs (it had only been an attic) and put the master bedroom, a bedroom that my sister and I first shared (and later she had to herself), a landing area that housed our aquarium, and a bathroom. Oh, and a large closet storage area that was great for hiding in. Later, he remodeled and finished the basement. The house was really old, handed down generations and purchased from his grandmother. The basement was originally dirt floor and wood planks. It was--to a four year old boy--a frightening place full of shadows, spiders, and an old pot belly stove. The finished basement became a place to congregate and have football showdowns with dad where we played tackle football on all fours.

In 1986, at the age of 40, he fully embarked on his dream to become a home builder with that buyout money, taking the leap. He soon starting his company Fireside Homes. In late 1986, they began working on building a new house for the family, and in the summer of 1987, our family left Northeast and moved to Blue Springs.

Every thing he did with building houses he did after he was the same age as I am now. Up until the same point in life, he had been a railroad switchman, though I don't think that ever defined him.

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