I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what a Dad-length work day is like. How he’d wake me early, when the hour hand was in single-digits I thought were reserved for dinner time. We’d start the day, it seemed, before anyone else knew the world existed. Where he could finish tasks before others would start their day so that they could start their day easier. And somehow it always seemed like we were the last to leave and lock the gate behind us.
He’d do that when he came over to work on my house, too. I’d wake up when the hour hand got to double digits only to find that half the job was done and oil was already seeping into my aging asphalt from a cheaply maintained — but functional — minivan. And if the job couldn’t be started without me for some reason, he’d find weeds to pull out or another task to complete. And in the evening, we’d hardly notice the sun had dipped behind the apartment building as we finished up whatever project was at hand. If there was still something that could be done, then it would get done. You could never keep up with that work ethic.
Yet, four years after he woke me up too early for the last time, I can still hear the small regret in his hospital-bed statement, “There’s so much left to do.” Even as it approached the time for him to rest, he only thought about the work he had yet to do for others. This sentiment sticks with me today as I try to find ways to complete those tasks still yet to be done and find ways to make the day easier for others. I try to wake up early, but struggle to match the example set for me. Even though the days since he left us seem longer, a Dad-length work day just isn’t quite the same anymore.