Celebrating Fathers. Michelle Cook on Gene (Gus) Loness.
There seems to be a connection between a father and a daughter that no one can explain. Maybe it is because daughters tug at a father’s heart string, or simply, a daughter is the one thing a father knows he has to protect for the rest of their lives. Whether it is one of those reasons or some other, I too feel as if my father and I have that special bond that you just can’t explain.
My father was 20 years old when I came into the world. Young, still an entire life ahead of him, and working in the family screw machine shop. Gene “Gus” Loness, was young, but still a responsible man who did what he needed to, to provide for our family.
My father is a veteran, serving in the Coast Guard during the Vietnam War period. He was, and still is, and incredible mechanic, and had to solicit the president of the United States, to get out of the military. He did such great work on the ships engines; they did not want to let him go. He simply wanted to come back to Missouri to be with his family and the birth of my younger sister. Military life is never easy of families, but epically when you are young and have a young family so many miles away.
Upon his return from service, he has since committed his life to working and growing the family business. He would also work side jobs to make sure we had the ability to make ends meet. That could have meant 18 hour days or building engines for stock cars. Understand, my father has had no formal training in the area of engine work, simply self-taught. I guess some people just have a knack for certain things.
This takes me to some of my most fond memories. Growing up at stock car track, learning how to catch and throw a baseball, and working on cars. I learned by watching my father do the things he did well, and those things often came natural. My father wasn’t “lucky “enough to have sons so he had to raise his daughters as if we were the sons he never had. There was never the easy way out because I was a girl. It was about making us strong and not having to rely on others to take care of us.
It was a different way of life when I was a child. My entire immediate family, including grandparents, all lived within a 2 mile radius. We have family holidays together, and learned what the meaning of family truly meant. We would gather on weekends, at our house, and all of the cousins raced go-carts, that my father builds. We learned to drive and how to compete, and at the same time being taught things you didn’t know you were being taught. We learned to strive for success, don’t settle for second best, and always respect those around you. We learned to stand up for yourself but, at the same time, understand that others have important views as well. Although, it was still very important to race to win and make sure you were the one who reached the checkered flag first.
There are so many different things I could say about my dad. I could write for hours. I find it difficult to put 43 years of thoughts down in a short article, to be able to express to you, who my father really is. To speak of a man who is honorable, and giving yet stern and committed. To describe a man who has given his entire life to a family business because it was his father’s dream to have a successful company and they became best friends working together for so many years. To know that we may not always agree but are able to agree to disagree and still love each other and respect the others views.
My father could have become whoever he wanted to be. He had an incredible arm, maybe he could have been a professional ball player. He could have built engines for great race car drivers. He could have chosen a different career path, putting other things in front of his father’s dreams. He could have gone to all of my ball games, instead of working so we have the means to live. He could have chosen not to discipline me when I stepped out of line. At age 20, he could have walked away from having a child, instead of staying married to my mother and raising a family. The list could go on and on. The point is, he didn’t choose those things. He chose to be a dad, the best he knew how. He chose to be a role model, in so many areas, and a teacher of so many things. He chose, later in years to be my friend, but always being a father first. A gift that I wish everyone was able to have.
My father and I live 1150 miles apart. Seeing each other, sometimes only once a year, but never seeming like time has passed. He still works every day, and now farms for “fun”. He gives to his church and his community. He puts needs of people who are less fortunate above needs of his own. This is a man I am proud to call my father. This is a man I miss daily and strive to make proud. He is a man that loves his family and is so very proud of his grandchildren. He is a man full of love and pride. He has worked every day of his life because his work ethic is that high. He is always opening his doors to those who just may need a place to stop in and chat for a while. He is a friend to many, a brother to 3, an uncle to several, grandfather to 6, but most importantly, a father.
Thank you dad, for teaching me to be a leader, to give back, volunteer, give 150% all the time, and never settle.
Thank you for being my dad.