My Daddy celebrated his birthday this past Monday, so I thought it would be a good time to share some things that this unique man has taught me throughout the years. Once you meet him you will find that he truly has the mind of a mad scientist and a heart of gold. He is a great adventurer and a student of many things. He always carries a pen or pencil and a notebook, a tire gauge, a pocket knife, a little plastic coin purse, and if you are really lucky, some electrical tape. I’ve tried to learn as much as possible from this man who likes a thorough experience of life. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
- Curiosity is Good! Not only is it good – it is imperative. “Curiosity killed the cat” has never deterred my daddy from anything. He has the curiosity of at least 90 cats, and he must have the 810 lives to go along with it. “I wonder…” has been the beginning of many of Dad’s great adventures. As we drove over a bridge on vacation it would suddenly become necessary that we know how the bridge holds up all that weight, how it was built, and what the bridge was made of. It has always been important that we not only understand what something is, but how and why it is the way it is. Curiosity has served my daddy well. He is curious about everything except computers. Although I think he and Mr. Google would quickly become fast friends!
- When you get sleepy, the grass is the best place for a nap!
- Good snacks are important. Some of my favorite memories of my Dad involve yummy things to eat. I remember when I was very little and he traveled in sales, we could always count on him bringing us back “Stage Plank” or “Rock N Roll” cookies (the gingerbread with the pink icing… mmmmm….). As I got older, I was able to “help” him on jobs in the summer. We always stopped to get a good lunch – I remember my first personal pan pizza at a Pizza Hut somewhere in Texas at lunch with my Daddy. In recent years, he has showed up at my house with a box full of orange push up pops for my girls. He’s even been known to travel with a brown paper bag of boudin.
- Velcro is amazing! When my dad discovered velcro, nothing was safe from being velcroed. The dashboard of his car was a masterpiece of velcro art. I believe he still loves velcro, though I haven’t seen as much of it in these past few years. Perhaps he is past his “Velcro Period.” He also had a “Copper Period.” (All great artists do this, right?)
- Dancing at weddings is one of life’s great joys (for Dad, if not always for his partners). You must dance like you mean it at the weddings of those you hold dear. From the 20-somethings to the little old ladies, no one is off limits as a partner.
- Helping people is good. It might be difficult, but it is good to help those in need. Dad has always been available to help family and even the occasional stranger stranded along side the road. He has stopped at accidents and offered encouragement to people at some of the most difficult times in their lives. He’s cared for old lonely people, he’s changed flats for strangers, and written letters of encouragement to hurting people. The world would be a better place if we all cared for people so fearlessly.
- Water in the back of the toilet is clean enough to drink. (No explanation available at this time)
- When streaking (yes, that kind of streaking) always wear your shoes, and keep your undergarments in your hand. Also, when you hit 50 (years old, not MPH), you aren’t running as fast as you think you are.
- Children are not insignificant. Dad has always been a family man. With great joy he still loves to tell of bringing me home from the hospital in a box. He was amazed at how tiny I was. (I would need a refrigerator box now!) As I grew I remember sitting on his shoulders, rolling in the grass with him, him teaching me to ride my bicycle. I remember him taking me & my brothers out in the boat and teaching us to swim. I remember Dad taking us to the park when we got bored at Grandma’s house. We could always count on him to push us the highest on the swings. As children, we were not insignificant. He enjoyed us, and we enjoyed him. This is why I smile when he takes my little girls on walks to the park or to the McNeese farm: because I know he knows they are significant.
- You can make it through hard times and come out better. Mom & Dad did have some hard times and several challenges throughout their 41+ years of marriage. Employment was a challenge for a few years when I was growing up, but he always did what was necessary to support the family, and when he started his own business, it gave him great freedom to be a husband and a dad, as well as a breadwinner. He and mom were always committed to each other and to us, and they made sure that we knew it. I felt so secure in knowing that…I still do.
- It is a parent’s right (and responsibility) to embarrass their kids thoroughly, and often. As your children get older, it is not only a right and a responsibility, it’s downright enjoyable. Favorite moments typifying this:
- Dad standing in the middle of the road in front of our house waving madly and yelling “SLOW DOWN” at the “cool people” driving down my street.
- Sitting at the table with one of my high school friends as Dad wrote her a speeding ticket for “talking too fast.”
- Standing at McDonald’s wondering if that really is my dad walking behind the counter to turn off the French fry buzzer because it is getting on his nerves (or perhaps it’s a dream… Nope, not a dream.)
If you are really good at the embarrassment strategies, you will eventually embarrass your children without even trying. As you approach your senior years, it gets even easier to embarrass the grandkids.
- Spray paint and epoxy are AWESOME, but the greatest is love… My daddy is a man who thinks deeply, and loves even more deeply. Many a tumultuous teenage argument ended with his assurance that he loved me. Whether it’s sneaking an embrace from mom in the kitchen or still kissing me goodnight when we spend the night, I’ve never had any doubt of the love of my father. I count myself privileged to be loved by him.
Happy birthday, Daddy (2 days late, of course!). I love you & I’m glad you’re my Daddy.
I’m a Believer!
(To read about my Mommy, click here.)