I know that father’s day is only celebrated in the United States, and by the time you watch the video, listen to the audio, or read this post; that the actual holiday will have already passed. Never-the-less, I wanted to take this week’s post to share some of the things my father taught me while I was growing up.
Picture of my dad
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Why I’m sharing
I should start by mentioning what prompted me to write this post. Its simple, my Aunt Pearl and Uncle Rusty found some photos of my dad from 2002 shortly before he died. They sent them to us by regular snail mail, and my brother scanned them on to my computer so I could share them. After posting to face book, a few people remarked on what a great man he was and on the big smile on his face in the pictures.
I wanted to be just like him
Growing up he was my hero, my inspiration, my influence. We liked the same music, wore our hair the same way, had similar views on religion and politics, etc.
And I was lucky enough to spend the last ten or eleven years living and working with him side by side. We spent thousands of hours together mostly in old pick up trucks or tractor trailers. We probably drove more than a million miles together.
He would tell people he was taking me with him to keep him awake. That was a big joke. I didn’t know it or wouldn’t admit it; but I had sleep apnea. I slept best in moving vehicles. And on more than one occasion I fell asleep before we were even out of our driveway.
But I think he found peace in being behind the wheel and I was best because I wouldn’t annoy him with meaningless conversation or wanting to play the wrong kind of music. I also knew how to massage his shoulders and neck as well as pop his knuckles. Basically, I was helping him to work through the pain to get the job done.
He taught me toughness
He had raised me to be a tough kid. This was good because between age four and twelve I ran into some machinery and cut my head open requiring stitches, I stepped on a board and drove a nail through the bottom of my foot; and I was mauled by a german shepherd that was supposed to be guarding one of our trucks. And I can’t remember how many times he told me to slow down. Even now I generally move slow even with a good sighted guide.
He taught me I was capable
He also taught me to be brave and willing to take chances. He raised me to believe I could do anything. He made me the independent person I am. He did this even when sometimes it backfired on him.
My brother Michael is a gifted natural mechanic. He can make just about anything run again. He found or bought a moped that wasn’t running and brought it home. He got it going again, and he would let me ride it. It didn’t go very fast, so we thought no one cared about me riding it.
Funny thing is that the moped and my brother’s dirt bike were always breaking down. It was generally something simple, but I’d have to wait until Michael could fix it for me before I could ride it again.
Recently, my mom admitted to us that my dad used to go out to the barn where they were stored late at night and sabotage them. Well, he couldn’t in good conscience tell me not to ride the moped, but he was worried I might hurt myself on it. That’s what any of us would want out of our parents though.
He taught me to go after what you want
He taught me about having a goal and working hard to achieve it. And I think one of his proudest days or nights that is was when he attended the court of honor where I received my Eagle Scout Award. It happened on August 22 1984 and was the result of almost four years of hard work.
We had two papers back then, the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle. They each had a policy of not covering or posting when scouts received their eagles. But they both reported on mine. Of course, it was the first time a visually impaired person had achieved the rank in the Sam Houston Area Council which covers mostly south easter Texas.
He was an honorable man
While I don’t know how much time my dad spent in church over the years, I do know he understood the real meaning of the golden rule and treating others the way you would want to be treated. He was a very honest man with lots of integrity in the way he ran the business.
His reputation was such that many events hired us knowing that we didn’t own enough rides to provide the size of carnival they needed. They depended on us to book in other ride owners.
And after his death, several of our old fair and festival committees have continued to rely on the Ivey family to provide their carnival. They know that we will find a way to do a good job for them. But I think they also feel they can trust us completely.
He was so well liked that people came from all over the state to attend his funeral. I’ve never known anyone who had a bad word to say about my dad. Even his competitors all respected him.
He taught me about overcoming obstacles
I think the most important thing I learned from him was that you can do anything if you don’t think you have a choice.
You see we had a carnival that people depended upon to appear at their fairs and festival and help them raise money for their charity. If we didn’t show up, lots of people would be hurt. That’s not to mention the fact that people wouldn’t have booked us any more and we would have gone out of business.
But my dad saw himself as a showman, and he believed in the importance of making opening night by whatever means necessary. The old saying about the show must go on was how we lived every week during the operating season.
I remember many times that we only got to next week out of a combination of sheer will and an amazing imagination. This was the time before cell phones became common place. Most of the time we did our booking scheduling with a big wall calendar because we didn’t have a computer yet. I kept my notes on a Perkins brailler. And on more than one occasion we would make it in with a ride and the rest of the family or people on the committee would ask us how. The story usually started with we had to we didn’t have a choice.
One of my favorite stories involved retrieving a couple of rides from a muddy lot in Shreveport Louisiana. We had been there for a hot air balloon festival that got seriously rained out by a tropical storm. They had to use the military vehicles from the exhibit area to tow many of the trucks and trailers off the lot. I don’t remember why, but we had to leave two rides there.
About three weeks later me and my dad went back after them. One was a trailer mounted play port called a raiders, and the other was a ground mount kiddie air plane ride called the rocket sleds.
A ground mount ride means you have to put it together and take it apart by hand and the load and unload it from a truck or trailer.
When we got there, the grounds were still very soft. But dad had planned on this, so he brought some plywood planking with him. He put these boards under the wheels of the truck. As the truck moved he would move the boards so the truck stayed on wood the whole time. He did this to back up to the raiders and to pull back out of the lot.
What he didn’t plan on or didn’t tell me to expect was that we had no where to load the planes from the rocket sled ride. The trailer was a gooseneck one meaning that the flat bed of the pick up could not be used to haul them.
He started looking around for rope, and then he told me he noticed there might be room on the raiders for them. He found space for two on the ground floor of the ride. He then tells me we can load the other three up top. I’m like okay how?
He says if we lift them above our heads we can just reach them over on to the top half of the ride. I am 6 ft 4 and he was 6 ft 2 or 3, so I didn’t doubt that we could do just that.
The problem came when we went to lift them. I was so fat then that my pants fell down when I tried to lift the tub up above my head. I would set the tub down and pull up my pants. We’d have the tub half way up, and my pants would fall down. He would say stop so I could pull them back up again. Finally on the third or fourth time I told him not to worry about it let’s just get it done.
That’s how we did it. We lifted each of the three planes above our heads. Once one was loaded, I’d pull up my jeans and we’d go to the next one.
But we got everything loaded and made it back to the other town in time to make opening. When they asked us how we managed it, I think he said something like well it wasn’t like we could leave the rides there. And that was how we approached most weeks. So, it should be easy to see where I get it from.
Losing him really hit me hard
I think you can tell how much I loved him and still love and miss him. And this is why when me and my brother Patrick weren’t able to get the carnival going it hit me so hard. When we joined up with my uncle’s carnival, I really had no interest. I fell into a state of apathy if not outright depression. I went to work each week, but I was only going through the motions.
It wasn’t until after getting treated for sleep apnea that things started to change. I realized there were things I could do that would be mine and that I could have pride in again. I realized there were people who would want to help me get there. So I started the midway marketplace on September 29th 2006. I took my first small step forward.
I know my dad believed in being your own man. He was never happy when he had to book in on another man’s midway. He would rather work a small church event than book in at the state fair. So, I like to believe he would be proud of me.
I think he would even find a way to really understand what I’m doing and support me in it. I’m sure a lot of you know people who have your best interest at heart but still can’t wrap their heads around the whole idea of blogging or podcasting as a way of making a living. I think my dad would have figured it out because he would have needed to.
He could tell great stories
My dad had a great outlook on life. He loved a good joke and could tell a great story. Often his stories were created to talk a highway patrol officer out of giving him a ticket. I spent a lot of time with him, and even I could never be for sure when he was telling the straight truth or feeding me a line of bull.
I don’t know anyone else not even his brothers and sisters who could ever be sure either. Some have said that I am a good story teller. Well, he was a master. If I am any good at it at all its because of the times I watched him spin a story. Sometimes we would even discuss our story in advance. Like an evil movie villain it was always better when he was on your side.
He loved good simple food like pinto beans and cornbread or biscuits and gravy. He enjoyed a chinese buffet whenever possible. And he probably had something to do with my love of food. I don’t know what he would think about me having gastric surgery to finally lose the weight, but I’d love to hang out with him and have a chocolate milk and a pack of lance peanut butter crackers just one more time.
Well, I need to wrap this up. If you watched all the way to the end of the video, then you know I started crying. I’m tearing up again. He was a big part of making me the man I am today. He did a great job raising a blind son because he raised me as a son who happened to be blind. I still love him and miss him every day. God bless you dad.
Of course, now next year I’ll have to follow this up with a mother’s day post. Thanks so much for letting me share some of my thoughts about my dad at this time of year. He always wondered if people would remember him, and I wanted to tell him yes most everyone who knew you.
Sharing is caring
Well, I hope you enjoyed watching the video, listening to the audio, or reading the post. If you did, then please share this with your friends, family, coworkers, and social media networks. And when you do how about including a mention of your mom or dad or whoever raised you when you do. I’d actually be just as happy if you didn’t share this time if it meant you taking the time to tell your loved ones how much you love them and would miss them if they weren’t in your life.
Well, that’s it for this time. If you have suggestions for future topics, I’d love to hear them. I’ve gotten request for something more about how I use twitter as well as one on how I get booked on so many radio shows. And if you have a question about me or anything I’ve shared, then JUST Ask
Until next week thanks again for taking the time to visit my site. I appreciate you and want God to bless you. Until next time take care out there my friends. Your friend, Max