Every year he ran the portable quartz heater well into Spring.
That was one thing I remembered as a little kid about my dad. While he sat at the kitchen table, which was almost always, he would have a beer on the table and the portable quartz heater on.
He worked in the metal heat treat department for Smith & Wesson. Every day, as long as I can remember, he was up before me and out of the house by 6:30, off to load and unload huge baskets full of steel gun frames into the furnaces for 8 hours.
Working in those temperatures made him used to the heat. During the blazing hot days of summer, my sister & I would complain how hot it was but not my dad. Then September would come and out came the quartz heater until June.
He hated his job.
He didn't get along with his boss.
But he went. Every day. Even the mornings after he stayed out all night drinking, which were many.
He still went.
I never thought much about that until I got older and was working. I was lucky enough to learn a skill that I liked which involved sitting in front of a computer all day. The only heat I feel is from my cpu.
But I think back and wonder how he was able to get up every morning and go to a place he did not want to be, do a job he did not want to do for a boss he did not like.
Once I got married and had kids I learned why. It was because he was a husband and a father. He was responsible for taking care of his family. Even though he probably dreaded those 8 hours, he went because it was his responsibility.
Whenever I think my job sucks, I remind myself it could be so much worse.
He retired in 1997 at 62 years old. Good for him I thought. Celebrate your retirement I told him. He deserved it.
He was dead less than 2 years later. I was 27.
He stopped working but didn't stop drinking. He just sat at the kitchen table with a beer in hand and the quartz heater on.
At times I get upset that I lost him while I was so young. I was married less than a year. I had no idea what was in store for me. But I also think about how hard it had to have been for him all those years standing in front of hundred plus degree furnaces while my sister & I were little.
I know whatever challenges that come my way I will be able to handle, whether its my job, my marriage or Peanut & The Champ. I just remind myself that my dad made it through his challenges for me and my sister.
You could say his memories are my quartz heater.