ELYRIA — David Weaver grew up without the benefit of guidance or examples on how to become a good father.
That’s because the longtime Elyria resident lost his own dad, David James Weaver, when he was 8 years old.
But that didn’t keep the western Pennsylvania native from becoming the kind of father whose firm but loving manner has left its mark on three generations that include three daughters, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“A lot of men who don’t have a father turn out to be examples of bad parenting,” daughter Heather Crawford, of Wakeman, said as she gazed over at her dad in the cozy living room of her parents’ Elyria home.
Heather and her mom, Kathy, agree David’s fatherly love and caring seem to have improved with age.
Retired since 2004, David now spends time looking after 15-month-old Lydia while her mother, David’s granddaughter, Kaylynne, works at the corporate offices of a dental center.
Expressing himself in a soft-spoken, thoughtful manner, David Weaver credits much of the quiet strength of character he developed to his own mother, Elma, whom he lost when he was 18.
“I had a strong mother,” David Weaver said, smiling as he recalled her. “She didn’t take too much.”
And that meant David Weaver didn’t have a lot of latitude when it came to getting himself in trouble while growing up.
“My teachers and principal all knew my mother because they all went to school together,” he said.
“But she was very nurturing,” Kathy Weaver, David’s wife of 52 years, added from her seat on a sofa across the room.
David also lacked the benefit of the positive influence that can come from other adult male relatives growing up.
Still the Weavers worked out a fairly efficient way of operating their household and raising their family.
“We had it down to an art, almost,” David said, grinning.
The couple married a year after David lost his mother. He was 19. His bride was 18.
Within a few years they had two daughters, Roshelle and Denise.
Heather, the youngest, came along a few years after that.
“I didn’t know anything” David confessed about his start as a dad. “(Kids) don’t come with instructions.”
But in quick order, they found their way.
“When one faltered, the other was there,” David said. “It was a learning process.”
The couple did develop a few cardinal rules that had their roots in their own upbringings.
“There has to be responsibility,” David said. “There weren’t a lot of options. You went to school or you worked.”
And they never argued or disagreed in front of the children — even if one had a big issue with the other over something.
“You waited to talk it over later,” David said.
Telling the truth was essential, as was maintaining a calm demeanor.
“Dad never yelled,” Heather said. “Even if you got bad grades. He said there was always a way to get a solution.”
Changing diapers or cleaning the house or preparing meals were never assigned tasks for the young marrieds.
“Whoever was around did it,” Kathy Weaver said.
Their alternating work schedules were a big plus. With a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. workday that included jobs in retail, and with the city of Elyria as a tree-trimmer and later with the water treatment plant, David was able to do a variation of today’s more commonly known stay-at-home dad routine.
Kathy worked evenings at the old Higbee’s store at Midway Mall.
Once he got home, David’s time was often spent cleaning, doing laundry and other needed chores before starting dinner.
Asked whether he was a good cook, Weaver answered, “I was then, but not so much now. I didn’t keep up with it.”
“There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t try,” Weaver said as he ticked off family meals of lamb, beef roasts and a favorite — turkey divan.
“I’d fix two dishes,” Weaver recalled. “Denise would eat one by herself, and we ate the other.”
Then there was the dreaded taco casserole.
“We had that a couple of times,” Kathy said amid groans and chuckles.
“It was not nice,” Kaylynne said with a slightly pained look.
“They refused to eat it,” her grandfather asserted. “It didn’t work.”
When Kaylynne came along, David happily played the role of a doting grandfather who dutifully sat for hours reading a book while the little girl had a ball enjoying a McDonald’s play area.
The restaurant’s employees got to know David Weaver and his granddaughter.
Unfortunately, one group of moms who didn’t, mistakenly believed the mild-mannered granddad was trying to kidnap his own granddaughter when Kaylynne decided she wasn’t ready to leave and proceeded to bite, hit and kick David as he tried to scoop her up.
Fast-forward a number of years to the time David escorted Kaylynne to get her first drink at age 21, and was the first in the family to see his great-granddaughter Lydia when she was born.
“We wouldn’t be who we are today…” Heather said, her voice trailing off as tears came to her eyes over her recollections.