AND THEN AGAIN… Tamara Pettit

He was far from perfect.  In fact, he was very human.  Yet I worshipped him.  He was my hero, my defender, my partner in crime, the most interesting man I ever knew, And, I was so lucky because……… he was my Dad.

It was the time of Beaver Cleaver and Father Knows Best and the Dads we saw on TV were perfect.  Full of wisdom, they  never made a misstep. .  And, their  daughters? Well they were relegated to a pat on the head and hours spent languishing over their latest beau.  Think about it “did Betty Anderson” ever ponder her career or life without a man?

Except my Dad.  From his position as a Justice of the Peace and City Judge not to mention his stint as coroner, he knew how rough things could be and that life was not as it was on TV and he never shielded me from seeing that side.  I saw the women who came to our door at 2 am bruised and battered seeking a “peace bond” to keep their husbands from inflicting more damage.  I would often take their kids up to my room to keep them occupied while the deputies filled out the papers. The coroner’s calls were gruesome or heartbreaking.  But when the call came in he always asked me “do you want to ride shotgun?”  I never turned him down  so I knew that even in our peaceful neighborhood  violence could erupt.  By  the time I was a freshman, the slot machine wars had pitted two mob families for control of the Strip on Route 30.  The Sheriff’s deputies became known as “Rodaks Raiders” as they hit the clubs refusing to acquiesce.  Was I sent upstairs to my bedroom when Rodaks Raiders (sheriff’s deputies) arrived in undercover cars to get the warrants?  Nope, I could type and it was me on the old Smith Corona typing those warrants, 

My Dad demonstrated not only love for me, my sisters and the grandchildren that followed.   He respected us.    Our opinion counted and he was eager to hear it.  He went to school with me to defend my right to demonstrate it. And it wasn’t just me, his grandchildren were afforded the same respect My son, Doug, once said that the night my Dad died he drove past the house where we used to live and as he looked inside in he could see in his mind the three of us – Dad, me and Doug -discussing politics or government and that Dad always respected the opinion of a 6th grader as much as an adult.

We went through some rough times  when I was 18.  He decided his llife would take a different course and got divorced. I didn’t like that the family unit as everyone knew it was breaking up.  But, I will always remember his words to me “I love you.  But you are not going to live my life for me.”   And, we didn’t. And when I was grown nobody lived my life for me. He taught me not to judge, not to fear public opinion and to be true to myself.

He died in 1989 six months before I was appointed to the Legislature.  While some thought it sad that he never got to see me serve, he was there with me every step of the way.  The advice he had given me was embedded deep in the person I had become. “Once you give your word, it’s your honor.  If you say you will vote for a bill and you go back on your word, no one will ever trust you again and you’ll be useless to your constituents.” 

“You remember those people who brought you to the table.  Never forget you wouldn’t be there without them,” caused me to rethink many issues.

And, when I  was scared I always felt his steady hand on my back knowing he believed I could do anything, because while it not might have been the traditional advice from father to daughter, I remember he had once told “You’ve got the ***** to get this done.”

And, while I will miss him tomorrow, I will know that his words and his love are with me always.