It's my brewery, my website and my blog. So I'll post what I want.
This has nothing directly to do with beer but I'm spreading my Dad's ashes in Canyon Lake today because that's where he'd want them. And I plan to read this then but I'm less and less sure that I can.
When I was a kid I remember my dad talking about his dad and he always referred to him as “My Old Man”.
Growing up I always thought that was a strange term of endearment and I didn’t quite understand it. In some ways, it seemed to me that it was disrespectful and it made me wonder what their relationship must have been like. I know now that it was kinda a generational thing and like most things our parents used, us ‘70’s kids just didn’t really use it. But was grandpa a hardass Nebraska farm boy that rode my dad mercilessly? Was he a strong family man that taught little Davey to shoot and play ball? Did he pat his head when he got an A in Math or did he give Dad his first cigarette? Any of those are possible because I never got the chance to meet Dave Sr. and my Dad didn’t like to talk about him. He died 7 years before Elvis and I traded responsibility for the world in 1977. But from what I can see in pictures and hear from relatives who knew grandpa, he was a hardcore badass. I would have been terrified to call him Old Man.
I always thought of my dad with a capital D. He was big, resourceful and tough as Hell.
He never worked out a day in his life but my Dad was always the strongest man I ever knew. Sometimes too strong. He used to slalom ski behind our boat and pull the damn thing to a near stop. He could single-handedly pull an engine from a car with a cherry-picker. If something needed to be done, he just did it. Fix the sink? Done. Build an addition to the house? Done. Repaint the van to match the stars on the ski boat? Easy money, son.
And he did it all without a net. Hell, he didn’t even have Google or YouTube. To this day I have no idea how he knew how to do half the things he did. He even built a 5-level retaining wall out of railroad ties to get access down to our boat dock. It had a motorized boat lift on it and yes, he also built that. But if my dad got into a bind he didn’t have anyone to call. His Old Man was dead.
I, on the other hand, had a safety net; I had my Capital D dad. He was always there for me every day of my life. Even after I moved out. Even after I got married. Even after I had kids. Even when I was a petulant know-it-all fuckup kid. Even when I didn’t see him. He maintained and fixed pretty much all my cars at his shop. He’s bailed me out of jail a couple of times. He loaned me money without question or judgement. He helped me wire my whole house with Ethernet cables in one day. And I’d call him anytime something needed fixed just so we could spend time together. His love language was Acts of Service and he was damn good at it.
Lindsey and I had him on the payroll for years at our first business as maintenance supervisor as much to give back as to keep him coming by all the time.
In a way I stopped trying to learn how to do some things because not knowing gave me a reason to call my Dad.
Then a few months ago I saw a leak next to the toilet at my work and I immediately thought about the times I watched my Capital D Dad pick up the old toilet, replace the seal and put it back down. So I figured I’d call him and have him come by to help me.
At that moment with his health the way it was I realized for the first time in my 43 years I couldn’t count on Dad for something. He had relinquished his capital D and become My Old Man. And I didn’t like it one bit. It was a gut punch so severe my head spun and the world wavered. My reality had changed.
I was on my own and I wasn’t even remotely prepared.
I didn’t realize then that I had 10 days left with him. That this sinking realization that he couldn’t help me with my piddly little task was only days away from being replaced with the realization that he would be gone for the rest of my life.
He was my guy to take care of things but he was so much more. He loved to tickle me when I was young. And not as young. He was a blast to travel with and had no fear of the unknown. He loved Jack Daniel’s and dirty jokes. He was great with my kids. Quick with his Dave-isms. Loyal to a fault.
He’d have your back when he shouldn’t. He could solve problems with his fists. He loved boats of any kind. He loved cooking breakfast and steak and that’s all he ever really wanted to eat. His motorcycle made him smile. He taught me that you can’t con and old con. His garage was his sanctuary. He loved all his family, no matter how extended. When he laughed, everyone heard.
And beyond all reason, he was truly proud of me.
He inspired me in ways I couldn’t see at the time. I’ve faced down some incredible obstacles that would have run me down without Dave Meyer tenacity in me. I’ve carved out a life that my family and I truly enjoy. I’ve had a healthy disdain for the rules and the ability to compartmentalize pain. I would lay down my life for my family but if he were still here, I’d never beat him to the gallows.
There are people in my life that count on me. People that need me. And I do my best to protect them, take care of them and wrap them in love every day. I will be right up front when they need me and two steps back when they don’t. For the rest of their lives they can count on me without thinking. I will do that because that’s what I was taught to do. Because that was the example I was given. Because when you experience love like that, you owe. You pay it forward.
Compared to My Old Man I’m happy to be a lower case dad. I’ll right all the wrongs I can and I’ll bandage the wounds of those close to me to the best of my ability.
I will not only do this because that’s what he would have wanted, but because that’s now what I want. That’s the example I want to set for those that come after me. That’s what I believe is right.
But I will always live in the shadow of the man who taught me generosity and love, my Old Man.
I owe him everything and I will never stop missing him.
I love you, Dad.