We celebrated my dad’s 75th birthday last night with almost all his siblings and spouses, which is all he wanted to do. It was such a nice evening, and reminded me of how much my family means to me.
When I was growing up, my dad was my touchstone. He was the one I measured everything and everyone against. He was the smartest dad I knew. Anytime I had a question about anything, he ALWAYS knew the answer. Either he was the best bluffer in the world or he knew a little bit about a whole lot of things. Either way, I loved the conversations we had about so many things-maybe not so much the informational tours of sewage treatment plants (he was a civil engineer and many family vacations revolved around wherever his jobs were)-but almost everything else. Now my husband calls him the “Shell Answer Man”. His love of learning inspired me to never stop reading, listening and opening my mind to learn new things.
He worked very hard when my brother and I were little-traveling quite a bit-but when he was in town he never missed a ballgame, dance recital, school or church function. Now that he’s retired, he is the best cheerleader for his grandchildren’s events, sometimes going from one to another to another-all in the same day! I thank God every day for parents whose love of family permeates everything they do.
Daddy didn’t cry much when I was little. In fact, I remember vividly the first time I saw him cry. He came to school when I was in third grade to pick me up and tell me that my grandfather had passed away. It was such an anomaly…he was the strong, stoic one in the family…that it left an indelible impression on me. Who knew that he must have saved up all those tears, because now his love for his family makes it difficult for him to get through a family prayer without waterworks! I always thought I was a crybaby. It’s good to know I came by it naturally.
My father’s life and the way he’s lived it has taught me by example what it means to have a family-strong leadership and unconditional love for God and each other. I once read an essay about how life is made up of the in-between moments. Not just the posed, photo-op BIG EVENTS in life, but the moments in between. I remember so many in-between moments with my dad…sitting beside him in church, listening to his big BOOMING bass voice belting out hymns, going to Shoney’s every Sunday after church, fishing in the creek at Grandma’s house, marathon sing-alongs on our many road trips…the list goes on and on. I’m so thankful for the moments, and for my Dad, for teaching me what life’s really all about.