Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’

My Dad marched to the beat of his own drum. He set his own standards, and while they changed through my childhood years, the bar and his expectations were always higher than I was tall.

rhg-wwiiDad was a product of a rough and tumble father and a mother who only knew how to love and care for others – no matter what. I guess his lack of emotion, his inability to truly display love, only became evident in hindsight – because as a kid, even when he failed to properly parent, I felt loved.

We didn’t spend a lot of time playing ball in the backyard, because Dad owned a small business and put in long hours. So instead, I often biked to Dad’s shop and swept or cleaned the work benches until he was ready to lock up – usually after Mom’s third or fourth phone call. On the way out of the shop door, he’d drop a dime in the pop machine and hand me an Orange Crush Soda for the short ride home.

My best Dad memories, though, involve the after-hours deliveries we’d make on warm summer evenings. Dad sold outdoor equipment and he would drive within a 100-mile radius to deliver a lawn tractor to a good customer. I’d help unload the equipment off the trailer and he would demo the machine, chatting up the new owner while I kicked at the stones eager to head back home.

We’d climb back into the red Dodge van he drove (purchased the year I was born) and he would steer us down Northwest Iowa county blacktops – back to Spencer. At five or six years old, I marveled at how many people knew my Dad as we made these trips together. I’d see a car or truck approaching us and nearly every single time, the driver in the oncoming car would wave – and Dad waved back.

“Who was that?” I’d ask him eagerly.

“I couldn’t quite make out the face,” Dad would say with a grin. Or, he’d say, “I think that was Jim from the hardware store,” or he would make up the names of other people he knew, completely BS-ing me.

Eventually, it dawned on me that we were out in the country and these other drivers were just being friendly, waving as they passed every car they met. But for a few years, at least, I believed Dad was the best-known man in the state of Iowa – or at least our corner of the state. He was my well-connected Dad and I was proud of him.

Dad died on Sunday and he’ll be buried back in my hometown today. We rarely spoke these past couple decades. Distance created distance and days lapsed into years.

But I’ll call upon the best memories I have of him. And if there’s a Heaven, I know my Dad has been greeted by the hundreds who waved at him on those summer evenings when it was just the two of us on the road.



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Politics As Unusual

I’m not a big fan of politics, primarily because in my mind it represents a gynormous waste of energy and time thinking and talking about candidates who represent the elected official stereotype we now expect from senators, representatives, governors, and presidents.

I opt to swing wide left from the office water cooler and avoid the debate on the merits of why Mike Huckabee’s tax plan is good or bad for America. I prefer not to get into spiraling, mind-numbing conversations about why Hilary Clinton’s healthcare plan will work…this time. I hate the hubris elected officials and political wannabees spew forth during election years. It’s just not my thing. I will not be on any candidate’s bandwagon.

I say all this because very few candidates truly listen to and understand what it is the American people seek from their elected officials. Since the American Revolution, at no point in our history have traits like honesty, integrity, loyalty, consistency, belief in what’s right and wrong, and confidence in affecting real change been more important for whomever becomes elected as the next President of the United States.

At this early stage, only two candidates demonstrate these traits in their thoughtful, candid, non-PR-oriented campaigns for the most powerful office in the world: Barack Obama and John McCain.

On Jan. 3, in Iowa, a record turnout of average Joe and Janes showed up in their precincts to make their voices heard. There are about three million residents in all of Iowa. More than 10 percent got involved in the political process to identify a legitimate presidential candidate. Democrats said collectively that they favor Barack Obama. Republicans in Iowa gave more than a third of their delegates to Mike Huckabee (McCain finished a distant fourth).

In my view (as ill-informed as it may be) only Obama and McCain, however, have listened to what our general population is saying. In my view, these two candidates are the only two who have purposefully cast aside their egos, rolled up their sleeves and given words of hope for the future of our country. They are truly running campaigns designed to take care of America and Americans first.

Neither McCain or Obama may win next November. But today, and for the balance of this hype-filled season caused by caucuses, primaries and the pre-electile dysfunction we call the campaigns leading up to the National Conventions this summer, these two men deserve more than just a cursory listen. They deserve a chance to show that they listen and will lead America into a new era of honor, diplomacy, respect, and recognition of the democracy the country was built on in 1776.


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