Every Saturday morning, Kim Hansen of Monticello, Fla., travels to Thomasville to pick up her dad and take him on an adventure for the day. She always asks, “What do you want to do today, Dad?” No matter where their journey takes them, one thing remains true about this father-daughter duo — they remain devoted to each another.
Richard Freck, 83, a native of Asheville, N.C., but now a resident of Thomasville, became a father 53 years ago when his daughter Kim was born. He later became a father again when his son, Mike Freck, arrived.
“It’s hard to describe, really,” Richard Freck said when asked how it felt to become a father for the first time.
Hansen recalls her father telling her about the day she was born.
“He always talked about how excited he was. His younger brother was in the military and my father was able to get an ‘urgent’ call to his brother by talking to an officer,” said Hansen. “When he got his brother on the other line, he told him that I had been born. It’s incredible that he was able to get through to him.”
Hansen likes to tell the story of when she had her first child.
When her son was born, she went into labor in the middle of the night. Her husband called his father-in-law to let him know she was in labor.
“Much to my surprise when we got there, my dad was there. He actually beat us to the hospital,” Hansen laughed. “It was over 25 minutes to the hospital and in the middle of the night. He wanted to be the first to see his grandchild.”
Hansen said her dad influenced her life andshe carries the lessons he taught her everyday.
She said, “He’s always been there to make sure I was sheltered and protected. My needs were always met while growing up. He taught me different things.”
Freck taught his daughter how to change the oil and sparkplugs in a car, and how to use a jack.
“She did pretty good,” Freck chuckled.
He taught his daughter how to be self-sufficient, too..
“He always told me that I cannot cry, but to be strong and stay focused. It was good advice, even though hard at times,” Hansen said.
The father also taught his daughter good humor, directness and to always help other people.
Freck was able to surprise his daughter significantly on her wedding day.
It had been difficult for her to decide on a wedding cake. Freck told her not to worry about it and he would take care of it.
Hansen said, “He told me not to worry about the cake. On my wedding day, I was so surprised. He did a great job picking it out. The topper was so special. It was a ceramic topper of a young boy and girl.”
She still has the cake topper. Every time she looks at it, she thinks of her dad.
Today, Hansen cherishes those memories and the time she spends with her dad. Saturdays are the days when they have the most time together. They enjoy going out to downtown Thomasville where they can eat and shop.
“People recognize us when we go out. It’s neat. Thomasville really reminds my dad of his home in Asheville, N.C. It’s really good for him,” said Hansen.
According to Hansen, her dad’s No. 1 job now is to be happy. Before he came to Thomasville, her brother Mike helped take care of him, too.
“Our parents paved the way for us and now it’s our turn to carry the torch and help them,” she said. “It takes a family to work together to care for an elderly parent.”
While reflecting over the 53 years of being a parent, Freck said, “We just had a good time.”
Kim smiled and added, “You did a good job, Dad.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.