Working With Dad
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Moving on now, from odd jobs to summer jobs. It's time to share some of your stories from our series about the summer job that most influenced you. And today, it's all about daughters and dads.
Deirdre Webber(ph) of Potosi, Wisconsin, told us about working for her father, running trout lines for his commercial fishing business. She was a rising high school freshman who barely weighed 80 pounds.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
My first time out, Deirdre writes, I endured more verbal abuse than I thought possible, which did not make me any stronger and did not help me hold the boat in position any better. He would yell at me to put my weight into the oars, and I would think: What weight?
Webber goes on: Then we came to the last set of lines, and Dad announced that we had a big fish on. He wrangled a mudcat, a flathead catfish, into our boat, throwing it right at my feet.
This fish was 45 pounds and to me, looked bigger than I was. It was awesome. Deirdre goes on to say she has been devoted to the Upper Mississippi ever since, and is really good at baiting hooks - a trait that was very attractive to the man she eventually married.
NORRIS: Between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was hired on at my dad's construction company, writes Crystal Nahara(ph) of Encinitas, California. She had no construction experience, but she did have the upper-body strength of a high school gymnast.
I was sent to work in the onsite lumberyard, helping prep wood-framing packages, she says. The job paid well, but the hours were brutal. Each morning, I would wake up at 6 a.m., put on my dirt-, sweat- and wood-glue-stained T-shirt and matching jeans, pack a lunch, and hop in the pickup with my dad.
After lifting lumber all morning, lunch never came soon enough. Crystal goes on to say the job gave her a true feeling of respect for her dad. She writes: I feel just as honored to have worn his hard hat for one summer as he probably felt seeing his oldest daughter, and first in the family, put on a graduation cap four years later.
BLOCK: A summer job also gave Kathleen Basi of Columbia, Missouri, a new perspective on her dad. He was the father of four girls - living in a house with one bathroom, by the way. And when Kathleen was a young girl, she thought he was kind of gruff. Here she is with her story.
Ms. KATHLEEN BASI: In the summer of 1993, I worked for my dad, a hog and row-crop farmer in north-central Missouri. That was the summer of the 500-year flood, the year that I-70 in St. Louis turned into a parking lot. It seemed like all the nation's traffic was trying to funnel onto the only open bridge across the Mississippi.
That was the summer I learned the serenity and the tedium of working the same fields over and over, slicing open the saturated earth as it gasped for breath.
Most importantly, that was the summer I came to understand my father. Growing up, he was the enforcer, the disciplinarian. And though I loved him, I was a little afraid of him. But that summer, something changed.
I saw the tenacity with which he pursued his chosen life, the fatalism that allowed him to accept the endless reworking and replanting, the creativity with which he tackled the obstacles that sprang up as thick as the weeds choking our drowned fields.
There was no downtime that summer. Whenever the rain stopped, we worked. At the end of those weary, sweaty days, I just wanted to sit down and quit. I barely had the energy to walk from the truck to the house alongside my father.
Slowly, I began to recognize that he, too, felt weary. But for him, quitting wasn't an option because this was how he loved his family - by working for them.
That summer, I learned how important it was not to let down the ones you love. I learned that what I thought was the limit of my endurance was in fact, only the beginning. I learned grace in the face of crashing odds, and I learned that sometimes, love and work are the same thing.
(Soundbite of music)
BLOCK: That's Kathleen Basi of Columbia, Missouri, talking about the summer she worked with her father, who she now regards as just a big old teddy bear.
NORRIS: You can tell us about the summer job that most influenced you, at npr.org. Click on contact us at the bottom of the page, and make sure summer job is in the subject line.
(Soundbite of music)
NORRIS: This is NPR.