I have written a lot about my family over the years and with Father’s Day fast approaching I started really thinking about my dad, Norman Andreas Rudy or Andy, to all those who know him. He’s as salt-of-the-earth as they come. I learned creativity and workmanship from both my mother and father. However, I remember being young and working with my dad in his woodshop having the best conversations and learning to make something out of nothing. My dad is crazy smart and talented. He is what I like to call my mad hatter inventor. He and his partner, Chris Hansen, created a Portioner, which is a high-powered water jet that uses water and a computer to cut food in equal proportions with as little waste as possible. If you’ve ever eaten a chicken nugget or had frozen chicken breast from Costco, you’ve eaten something cut on one of my dad’s machines. He started his business out of our living room and watched it blossom into something that produces volumes of portioned food in every country across the globe. The day he sold his company and retired was a truly blessed day.
Every garage we’ve ever had was not a place to park cars but was his workshop. Most of the furniture in my home was handmade by him and every Christmas the entire family waits with bated breath to see what Papa has made just for them. When I was young, potato chips came in boxes. The cardboard came in large white sheets before they were bent into containers. Somehow, my dad obtained these and he placed one in front of me and one in front of my sister, Sarah. He’d proceeded to draw a large X in the middle of the paper and tell us we were going to learn how to draw with perspective. Then he showed us how to draw a city as if you were standing at the end of the street looking down its depths into oblivion. The buildings close by were huge and detailed, the ones at the far end were tiny and non-descrip. We took painting classes together, and though his work always turned out better, I loved every moment. I get compliments for my artwork even now. I learned all of it from my dad.
While we were growing up he had to work in Alaska most summers. My poor mother, Linda, would have to play the roles of both good cop and bad cop while he was gone, only to be under-appreciated and cast aside whenever my father came home. She was always a good sport and gave a solid foundation of respect, compassion, loyalty, and atonement because my dad could never be the disciplinarian in our family. When we moved from a small town to a bigger town, I was lost. I didn’t understand the kids. Suddenly, the things you wore, the things you said and the way you looked, were unmercifully judged. We didn’t have much money and I wanted the clothes all the other kids wore, not the ones my mama would make me so lovingly with her own two hands. Once I remember crying because a particular pair of jeans containing a star on the pocket, were not going to be a pair I would be allowed to own. They were too expensive. We were working in his shop one weekend and I was complaining about how I wanted the jeans and my dad told me I was a helluva lot more than a pair of jeans with a star on the pocket. He said being one of the herd isn’t interesting, standing out was. It’s something I wouldn’t forget. I even wrote him a poem about it a few years ago, that still hangs in his office now.
My dad was and is, handsome. My son, Charles Andreas looks just like him when he was young. I wanted Charlie to be named for two wonderful, remarkable and selfless men, so he was named after both his grandfathers. He too displays the kind of creativity my father does and learned to draw car schematics from the age of two…yes, I said it…age two! On this Father’s Day, I just wanted to tell you a tiny little bit about my dad and why he means so much to me! I know there are many of you out there that must endure Father’s Day without their beloved patriarch’s, my husband is one of them. I do wish you peace on that day and feel entirely blessed mine is here with me. I sincerely hope each and every one of you are able to reflect on your dad’s with all the love, devotion and gratitude the day of honor holds.