Childhood, Family, Life

The Greatest Man I Always Knew

I haven’t done a re-blog in a while but in honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to re-blog this one. 

First published on April 10th, 2015

I really like the song, The Greatest Man I Never Knew by Reba McEntire, which is about a troubled relationship between a father and a daughter.


“The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say
Too much was on his mind
I never really knew him
And now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had”

This doesn’t speak at all to the relationship I had growing up with my dad. However, the song affects me every time I hear it because my own father dedicated so much of his life to providing for his family.

My father is one of those people that takes a back seat and lets others take center stage while he enjoys the view from the back row. My dad is a brilliant human being who never brags about himself and never brings attention to his intelligence.


If he’s in the room and someone asks a random question, he’ll almost certainly know the answer. But he won’t say anything; instead, he’ll wait for others to reach the same conclusion before agreeing with you.


The only criticism I have of him is why didn’t some of his intelligence trickle down to me?? 😉


Today, my father is celebrating his official last day before retiring. He’s worked for the same company, Komatsu, since 1989, that relocated us from our small town in Ohio to the Chicago area all those years ago. My parents have moved two more times with Komatsu as my dad advanced up the corporate ladder (I’m bragging since he won’t), first to Peoria, Illinois and later to Chattanooga, Tennessee which is where their headquarters are located.


But my dad worked for a lot longer than that, from the day he graduated from high school in New Jersey from the jobs he certainly held before leaving the town he called home for the first 17 years of his life. My father was born in Dover, New Jersey, to a family of 12 children. He lost his mother when he was 14 years old and was placed in foster care when the father could not care for all the children. My father is a fighter, an inspiration, and a wonderful human being.


I am continually conscious of how fortunate we are to have gotten him in life’s coin toss.


In honor of my dad’s retirement, I am dedicating this blog post to him today. Even after all these years, I’m still not sure what he does! So I asked my mom- thanks mom! He works in the Engineering Department, where he was in charge of all the budgets.


But this I do know: over the course of his 34 year career at Komatsu, everyone he worked with, came in touch with, or interacted with, adored my father.

The feeling is mutual. 


I’d like to introduce to you my dad. Not the person the world sees. This is how I see him.

Dad and I Easter 1994

For a few years, in addition to his full-time job, my father worked part time alongside me at Kohls during the holiday season. For fun. I enjoyed having him a few departments away, and so did my co-workers. I also enjoyed sharing those back-and-forth rides to and from work together.

Grampa and Anna sleeping

I’ve enjoyed watching my dad grow into a grandfather to his grandchildren. I never got to meet either of my grandfathers, so I’m grateful that my girls have him.

Dad, daughter and son at beach in Wisconsin

My father is one of those individuals who doesn’t know a stranger. He’ll draw you in with anecdotes and small talk about topics he believes you’ll be interested in. He’s engaging and entertaining; loving and sincere. He’s also a rockstar when it comes to music and trivia facts. In fact, he taught me all there is to know about music and trivia.

My dad and I at my wedding

From allergies to migraines to useless knowledge about the world’s largest ball of twine (Cawker City, Kansas), I am my father’s daughter. He (and my mom) instilled within me a passion for music that carried me through nine years of concert, symphonic, and marching band participation and lives within me to this day.

Dad and Mom laughing

Even as an adult, I am transported back to my youth when I hear the musical artists that my father introduced me to in the early seventies. My earliest memories are of Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Carole King, not of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers.

My dad and I in the Smoky Mountains

Dad, some could argue that your most important days are behind you now that you’re retired. I’m here to tell you that your most important work was done within the walls of your home, not at Komatsu.

I love you.

I think I’ll go put some Carole King on and shoot some hoops. Wanna join me? You’ve got the time now.

22 thoughts on “The Greatest Man I Always Knew”

  1. Awww, Happy Retirement to your Dad! I have a hoop shooting father of my own and can understand every word you say here. I think our dads would be great friends, just like us.

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  2. I've visited a few times but not commented yet, but I felt the need today to say this was the sweetest post ever. Having lost my own dad almost 8 years ago now this made me miss him but also think of him in a sweet way. Thanks for that and congratulations to your awesome dad!

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  3. This is all kinds of awesome. Makes me want to know your dad in person! He lives in my home state now–I was born and reared in Tennessee! Will he and your mom stay in the South now? Surely they will, since you need to go back and spend time down there. (So sorry that your spring break ended badly!) Many, many congratulations to your father. Wish the world had more men like him!

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  4. Oh Kari, this is priceless. I lost my Dad when I was 4 1/2 in a plane crash. My Mom never remarried, but she did a darn fine job of raising my brother and I! You are so very very blessed to have grown up in such a wonderful family with such a loving Dad. Congratulations to this sweet man on his retirement!! Time to kick back and do what he enjoys. He earned it!! (They are next to me…NC here) 🙂

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  5. What an absolutely beautiful testament to your dad, Kari. I teared up just reading about him and your relationship. Thanks for sharing him with us today.

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  6. I can hardly type my comment through the tears. What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful father; what a life he has lived. I can’t even imagine losing my Mom and going into foster care at that age. What a strong human he is and what a life he gave to you my friend. I love that you have him and I love that you appreciate and know what a gem he is.
    I hope he has a nice Father’s Day.

    Oh, when I drive to GA, I always pass a few LARGE billboards advertising Komatsu and it always brought to mind Edwin McCain. Do you remember him? He had some great songs in the 90’s; we met him a few times when he was helping us with some charitable work. He told Coach how much he loves those machines and uses them on his big piece of property so he started selling them! How funny is that? But now, when I see the billboards, I’ll think of your sweet Father instead.
    Ok, maybe I’ll think of both of them as Edwin is also a very sweet human.

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