My dad was the best. Of course, many people might say the same about their own fathers. My dad was so earnest. Oscar Ernest Manz, he was. He was humble, he didn’t have an ax to grind, he was successful at what he did and had the admiration of people from around the world. More than that, he cared deeply for his family. I am the youngest of our clan and most definitely benefitted from my position in the family. However, all my siblings admire my dad. Dad died in 2012 at age 84 shortly after learning he had cancer of the liver. He and my mom decided not to try to fight it as it had already spread rapidly. By doing so, they showed remarkable courage in following what they felt was right for them. It was not an easy decision. Dad died with dignity and with his mental faculties in place. I miss my dad, but I’m grateful he saw what I had become so far in life.
I want to share how his being shaped who I am. In the midst of a wrecking ball of a presidential election, I feel compelled to relate that everything my dad represented was the antithesis to the current Republican Presidential Nominee. My dad was satisfied with what he had. He was confident in who he was, without being arrogant. My dad had deep respect for others. My dad wasn’t perfect, but he was damn near. He just loved life and learning. Learning about fly-ash, a by-product of coal-fired electricity plants, and of how to mix just the right amounts of it with aggregate and cement to create the perfect concrete for any occasion. He also loved hearing peoples’ stories. He just had all the time in the world to sit and listen to someone he just met tell his or her life story. If I resemble him in my appearance, it’s genetic. If I resemble him in spirit, I’m deeply blessed. My life has been a series of experiences that have helped define me. My father was a relentless chaser of experiences, intended to widen his view of the world and to stimulate his intellect. I could have had no better male role model than my dad. He taught me to be caring, tender, faithful and most of all, authentic.