This post is for you, Dad; I’m dropping my red pen.

I promised everything on here, so here it is.

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My father died last Friday. He was 61. Thankfully, I never knew him with that mustache.

My Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on the second day I was at my new position as a Superintendent.  He went in for an emergency surgery known as a whipple (which is suppose to have a 50% survival rate), but the cancer was still around.  He could have opted for chemo, but he chose not to.  For almost three years, he suffered.  The suffering has finally come to an end.

I flew down the day of and began making arrangements.  In between logistics, I began filtering through all of his things.  My dad must have had at least ten laptops.  Why? I have no idea.  As I was destroying hard drives, I came across his most current laptop – – he actually used this one for the past three years! I logged in and see if this could be salvageable for my mom (who still yearns for Word Perfect… nuff said).  In it, I saw that not only did he have a twitter account, I saw that he was an avid reader of my blog.  I never knew.

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The more I clean, the more I was reminded of who he was. He was the epitome of a blue-collar worker. A tool-and-dye maker by trade, he worked hard and tried his best.  Like all relationships, we had our moments. Adolescence was no picnic – and occasional sibling rivalry was present – but, he always tried.

Dad was not the fan of school.  He wasn’t dumb; school just wasn’t his thing. He was a bit of a rebel as a teen – he wasn’t a fan of ‘The Fuzz’ either.  So when I told him that I wanted to either be a cop or a teacher, he just thought it was me being a punk.

In my first year teaching, my Dad often saw me grading papers with the infamous red pen.  He hated it.  In fact, during just about every conversation I’ve had with him since I started teaching, he asked if I stopped using the red pen to grade.  He never really shared much other than “everyone should get an A” and “knock it off with all of that red ink”.  I found some report cards from when he was elementary and junior high school.  I understand.  His report cards were laced with red ink (D’s and F’s).

As a Superintendent, I typically only use my red pen to sign forms. To honor my Dad, I’m going to be retiring my red pens.  I was infamous for a green signature for a numbers of years (thanks to my 6th grade music teacher)  – looks like I’ll be making my way back to such.

On a fun note, I can see where I get my need for organization and properly labeling everything.  My Dad had a knack for the label maker – and I got to experience it in the flesh.  The best thing I found labeled: a lantern.  Because if we all go out with our lanterns, it’s paramount that he get his lantern back 🙂

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Rest easy, Dad. I hope you continue to read and lurk; I hope you continue your passion for cooking (even though you only ate hamburgers and hotdogs); I hope you keep an eye on me as we all move forward.

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