Dear Dad: I wish I could have one more conversation

Dear Dad: I wish I could have one more conversation June 19, 2016

My Dad was born in 1917 in the living room of a house in North Dakota. The wheat waved in the wind and the heat bore down on that simple home on the Rupert Ranch.

The dust bowl rolled in the 30’s, laying the ranch to waste. They sold everything and moved to California, a place of great promise.

Dad entered dental school but withdrew when his father died. He worked to provide for his mother, landing a job putting shingles on subdivision homes. It was a “temporary” job that he kept for 50 years.

Adam Rupert, Emma Rupert, and Gordon Rupert (my dad)

For five decades he crawled over rooftops, and literally hung on the edge of danger. We figured over the years he made more than 100,000 treks up and down a ladder, often with bundles of shingles on his shoulder and tools strapped to his waist.

He was a roofer by trade, a cowboy at heart and a gentleman by nature. The truth is, I wish I was half the man he was.

His skill, his honesty and his integrity won him many loyal customers and fed our family. His was a simple approach. He rarely hired a crew, choosing instead the lonely road of a dedicated craftsman.

Who needs advertising when you drive this?

Advertising? His calling card was an old 1951 Chevy truck with a custom roof over the  that he drove down the highway with a ladder strapped to the top. He was famous for that truck and regularly people would pull up at a stoplight, roll down their windows and ask him to come over.

He never cheated his customers. He always backed up his work. He always had a smile and gentle way that exhibited Christ’s love.
I remember sitting on a roof with my dad as a small boy, eating half his sandwich and stealing coffee from his Thermos. I would catch his grey eyes, staring off at some distant shore. Where ever it was, I wanted to be there with him.

He spoke slow, not wishing for words to complicate a situation that could be resolved with a smile.

He breathed many a silent prayer on those roofs, simple thanks for the blessings of living another day. Such was the way of my father.

He and my mother were married 62 years. They died within a year of each other.

Dad never made a lot of money. But I learned that work wasn’t just about getting ahead. It was about glorifying God through your labor. It was about a High Calling that didn’t have to be articulated, but was lived.

His ethics, his serenity and his faith lives on in his children.

Happy Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Life.


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