My dad was a cripple.

Don’t judge me for that word. When Dad was left disabled by polio in 1931, “crippled” was the term for his condition.

When I was born in 1957, he was still crippled.

For me, it just meant my Daddy had a limp. It was no big deal, really. I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of it.

In fact, there were some advantages.

For most of my childhood years Dad wore one built-up shoe. The heel was about four inches thick. The idea was to even out his gait, but it never did.

In fact, it gave his walk a certain cadence. Bump-BUMP-bump-BUMP. When he walked across certain floor boards, the creaks would add to the rhythm —bum(creak!)-bum(CREAK!)-bum(creak!)-BUM(CREAK!).

We kids could tell by the bumps and creaks how happy Dad was. If we heard “creak!CREAK!creak!CREAK!!” we knew we should stay in our rooms until things calmed. Later, when Mom was sick, the slower bumps and longer creaks told me how sad he was.

There were things Dad did not do with us — he rarely went on long walks or played physical games with me. I didn’t miss out because my Uncle Charlie filled that gap.

Overall, Dad’s disability just changed the things I learned from him. Slow activities were his specialty. He taught me how to paint and make household repairs, and how to listen to cars.

He taught me to play pinochle and be ruthless at Monopoly.

Most of all, with no words at all, Dad taught me what it was to be an overcomer.

He had achieved Eagle in Scouting when it was a rare thing — he was always proud of that, and so were we.

When the company he had worked for downsized, he bounced back. In fact, he bounced back twice when he lost jobs due to no fault of his own.

In all the trials of his life — and the pain he had from his skewed body — he never complained.

After Mom died, Dad applied for a job more suited to his abilities. He was called for an interview, but when the plant manager saw the limp, he turned Dad down.

That was the first time I realized Dad had led a bold life in the face of discrimination.

In truth, it was the world that was crippled.

Dad just had a damaged body.

Miss you, Dad.

Happy heavenly Father’s Day.


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