Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day to all the "Edgars" Out There

The title might be sort of an inside joke, but since Discovery keeps pounding it into our heads that there's 74 million Deadliest Catch fans out there, at least a few of you might get it.

Edgar Hansen is the Engineer/Deck Boss on the F/V Northwestern, one of the fab four of the fleet as seen on the Deadliest Catch. He truly is one of the handiest guys to have around. As Mike Rowe mentioned in the premiere episode of After The Catch, Edgar, and the other guys like him on the show - and there are many, though none as amazing as Edgar himself - are the reason people watch the show.

Resourceful, dedicated, a jack-of-all-trades MacGuyver sort of guy, he always know what to do and when to do it.

I have been fortunate enough to have two "Edgars" in my life. The first is my father. Born to a ranching family in the Sandhills of Nebraska, fifty miles from the nearest repair shops, or really help of any kind, Dad could do anything. Doctor cattle, fix machinery, raise crops, build stuff, fix fence, keep a roof over our heads - although mom will be the first to tell you that household repairs and maintenance always lagged a little behind the other responsibilities.

When I was in Junior High, we moved to town - the town of Sutherland, population around 1,000, so my brother and I could attend High School. Back in the early 1970's, construction was just beginning on the Gerald Gentleman power station south of Sutherland. Dad took advantage of the opportunity and began working on the construction crews. For several years, he worked 7-12's, which is to say he worked twelve hour days seven days a week, plus continued to farm.

He would be up in the 4:00 hour each day milking a half-dozen or so cows (by hand, no milking machines on our farm), then would go to work from 6:00am to 6:00pm. Since summer days in Nebraska are long, not getting dark until 10:00pm or so, when he got home he would get on a tractor and do whatever farming needed to be done. Before dark he would again milk the cows , fall into bed and start again the next morning.

He was the very last construction worker to be laid off at the completion of the power plant. As one job would finish, his bosses would just shift him on to the remaining jobs because he was such a valuable employee. He had the opportunity to go to work for Nebraska Public Power District, operators of the power plant, as many of the other construction workers did, but he opted to go back to the "easy" life of farming.

After a false start... or two... or more... (we won't say how many), I found and married my "Edgar". As a matter of fact, I kind of like to think that Edgar is the Northwestern's Mr. Nebraska Outback rather than the other way around.

The Mister has worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for thirty-plus years. He's now a foreman, but continues to hold membership in the electricians union as well. He's the favorite "dad for a day" among our children's friends. In fact, he usually packs a fully loaded tool box when we go to visit the kids because either they or their friends will have a honey-do list, from roofing to plumbing that needs done.

Right now his project is remodeling a bathroom. He's doing an amazing job, but that still doesn't stop me from complaining about how long it's taking (it's on the downhill slide right now, with just a few fixture installations to go). You've all seen him tackle the restoration of my grandparent's historic homesteading cabin. Every year he cuts, splits and stacks enough firewood to get us through the winter. Last year he re-roofed the house and most of the outbuildings. He does all of the wiring, plumbing and any construction or repairs that need to be done (isn't home ownership wonderful?). He does all of the regular maintenance on all of our vehicles, plus any repairs that need to be done. The list could go on and on and on.

Plus, he is my constant traveling companion, whether I'm dragging him to a consumer travel show where all the rail fans are just in awe that he actually gets to work on locomotives, or we're off to Seattle to CatchCon, or he's the designated driver to escort a group of us ladies to see Mason Douglas in concert, he does it with a resigned grin on his face.

He's also the consummate House Concert host. It wouldn't happen without him as the road crew... moving furniture, setting out the chairs, and making the artists and guests feel at home. Then there's the Couch Surfers he helps me open our home to, getting to know new friends from all walks of life, sharing his love for Nebraska as he tours them through the beautiful Sandhills.

My father has been gone for nearly twenty years now, and it seems I miss him more and more each day. I know I didn't appreciate him nearly enough when I had him around.

The Mister is the love of my life, someone I though I never would find. You know all those sweet sappy cards on the racks? That's how I feel about him. So Happy Father's Day to him, and to all of the other great dads who are the Edgars of the world. And you know what? Happy Father's Day to all those dads too who don't know a spark plug from a wine bottle cork. It takes all kinds!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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