The Ordinary Project | TOM RAKOW |

– Today’s Ordinary Project is a little different than past posts.

You see, today I want to honor my dad (it is  Father’s Day, after all!)

But because my dad is such a busy man, I didn’t want to take up his time making him answer questions that I pretty much know the answers to already.

I know he doesn’t consider himself to be an ordinary hero — he simply thinks he’s doing the best he can to help others and provide for his family.

I know he’s hard on himself and feels bad that he can’t do more.

I know that he’s the hardest working person I know.

I know that Tom Rakow is the smartest, strongest, and stubbornest man I’ve ever known. Besides starting his own construction company 20-some years ago, his humble accomplishments include:

  • helping to raise four of his own children
  • fostering and adopting four more children
  • farming
  • running a Christmas tree farm
  • providing for his elderly parents
  • teaching AWANA at church on Wednesday nights, and Sunday School on Sunday mornings
  • he has led a bible study at the local jail
  • he supports missionaries and ministries across the globe
  • helps those in need
  • and a spattering of other acts and jobs
  • all while being the spiritual leader of our family

Sure, he has his flaws, but my dad is my ordinary hero because of his Godly character and constant willingness to do whatever he can to provide for and help his family, even when he’s insanely busy.

I have dozens upon dozens of memories with my dad over the course of my life. However, they say that the sense of smell can provoke the most vivid memories, even years later. And my dad’s smell is one of my most vivid memories, even years later, as I’m moved out of my parents’ house and about to get married. I still smile when I smell

I smell concrete dust.

Concrete dust.
It’s his signature cologne.
Blended with dirt, dedication, and frustration,
infused with a pinch of passion.
That’s how I’ll always remember him-
coming home from a long day of work, smelling of sweat–

–Sweat and concrete dust.

If you were to bottle it up,
the label would read “My Dad.”
The bottle is shaped like a rock–
because that is what he is.
This scent is not for the faint of heart–

Concrete dust is for a specific man.

Only someone strong is worthy of the smell.
Someone hardworking and fearless,
someone commanding and smart.
Someone like my dad.
He can lead like a lion, yet love like a lamb,
the familiar odor coating his wool.

Concrete dust. 

I can smell it on his clothes, in his truck, on his skin,
the grayish powder blending into a story.
A story of handwork and commitment,
of a desire to succeed and provide.
For twenty years my dad has worn the scent

Of concrete dust.

The years have come and the years will go,
just like they tend to do.
And one day my dad will be old and bent,
His hair a powdery gray, his skin a dusty brown.
His sight may go, his hearing too, but he will always smell

like concrete dust.




I know I’m getting married soon, and as tough as you are, I know it’s hard to think about letting go. But I hope you always remember that you were the one who taught me to love, and you set the standard. Thank you for the vital role you’ve played and continue to play in my life. Thank you for always being there for me when I needed you. Thank you for always providing. Thank you for your love. 

I’ll always be your little girl. 


Special Time



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