Friday, June 29, 2012

My Dad

Sorry I haven't been posting as much lately. Since I'm no longer as connected as I usually would be, I will likely write up entries ahead of time, then post them whenever I have access to do so. Today however is a special day and therefore I've made a more concerted effort to get this out in a timely manner. 

June is an important month for me personally, it marks two of the most significant days of my life.  June 13, 1998 was the day I symbolized my dedication in baptism. Fourteen years feels so tiny in comparison with many of the brothers and sisters out there, but it's a decision I'm glad I made, even if it's not been an easy road.

Today's date however marks a much less happy occasion. June 29, 1996 was the day I lost my father. I don't want to make this entry one in which I dwell on that aspect of the past. It was a terrible day, I felt sad and to an extent guilty for a long time. But I've more or less come to peace with what happened and I consider myself blessed first and foremost for the hope of one day seeing him again, and secondly, I feel fortunate that for the most part we were not a family that left things unsaid. My whole life and especially when he became sick he was openly communicative about how much he cared for his family.

I didn't go in to see him once he was gone, I got the to the hospital barely in time to see him in the minutes before he died and while that wasn't the most peaceful memory to end on, one of the brothers suggested that perhaps it was best to remember him alive rather than carry the memory of him deceased. And that's ultimately what I'd like to do in this post.

                                                                                      Mom and Dad on their wedding day
(November 1981)

I did a Google search on him today at the library and found a few interesting hits. One of them was his obituary in the Orlando Sentinel. It simply read:

DAVID J. TINIS, 46...died Saturday, June 29. Mr. Tinis was an electrical engineer for B-E Aerospace. Born in Miami, he moved to Central Florida in 1978. He was a member of Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses Plymouth Congregation. Survivors:wife, Marjorie; sons, Phillip, Houston, Anthony, Lake Mary; daughter, Amber, Sorrento; brother Milton, Mount Dora; one grandchild...

While factually accurate, and a perfectly adequate obituary I couldn't help but feel like it was just barely a starting place to describing his life and what kind of person he was.

Dad was born in Miami to parents of Filipino and Russian-Jewish descent. They'd met, married and become Jehovah's Witnesses shortly before having my father. His father spent much of the year away working, as a professional chef. Dad always sounded like he was a bit of a nightmare child to have to cope with. With her husband away so much I'm given to understand that my Grandmother frequently called the elders over to deal with my dad's antics.

I've no doubt you could probably fill a book with the things my dad used to get up to. Unfortunately I only heard a fraction of the stories and it's been so long since I've heard them I can only remember a bit of those. But to give you an idea they range from something as innocent as being a young boy disrupting an entire meeting (during the Circuit Overseer's talk) by loudly banging the ceiling tiles in the men's room in an effort to see what was up behind them to building his own cannon as a teenager and taking it out to the water to fire it off and scaring boaters into jumping ship.

Dad giving me early computer lessons
(circa 1983)

He also engaged in perfectly 'normal' pursuits such as going to football games to watch the Miami teams play. (Go Dolphins/'Canes!) He was a good artist, an excellent and adventurous cook, he built his own telescope, was actively engaged in his high school activities, as well as playing football himself in games with other young brothers. Those however came to be discouraged when some of the pioneers had to go off the list from injuries sustained during these games.

Dad was also an active preacher of the good news. Those who knew him as a teenager were generally dubious of his future, given his trouble-making streak however by the time of his death he had served as an elder for many years and he died faithfully even under pressure to accept blood transfusions. I am enormously proud of the name he ended up making for himself.

He was a loving and attentive parent, a strict disciplinarian, and someone who deserved and usually managed to gain your respect. He had the ability to know when to be serious and when to be silly, which sounds like it should be fairly straight forward, but it's surprisingly difficult sometimes to find people who know how to balance the two.

Giggle Times with Dad

He took me to my first football game, basketball game, and hockey game. He never excluded me from typically male oriented activities on the basis of me being a girl. As I think of it, there tends to be this idea that if you're a geek you must like a certain niche of interests and not really expand beyond that. If you're a sports fan you're probably not brainy enough or interested enough to bother with anything a bit more on the intellectual side. And whether he intended to or not, I think my Dad taught me none of those types of boundaries should matter. As long as it doesn't go against Jehovah's principles love anything you want in any combination you want.

I really feel like I owe the best parts of myself to him. And I look forward to the day when I can see him again.