A Post About My Father
Friday my dad turned 55. Getting through this year has been one of the most stressful things I have ever done. My dad is perfectly healthy (although he is an occasional chain smoker), and the worst thing he had was the flu this winter. Even knowing this I have been terrified waiting for this day to come. Dad has a unique family history. His father and his father's father both died at 54. He has older siblings (none of whom died in their 54th year), and one told him he wouldn't know scared until he turned 54. But my dad is funny in that he would be okay with dying. Not to say he's suicidal, merely that he has lived a good life and he has no major regrets. I don't know if he has been worried at all this year, meanwhile I have been stress eating like a fiend for the last 3 weeks.
I am glad my dad is in a place of acceptance for what ever comes. I am so not there yet. I want him around for at least 55 more years. He needs to terrorize my future husband and make me laugh as we walk down the aisle. He needs to take my children to the ranch (or the gym/bagel shop) and teach them all about the things he loves (the gym/bagel shop/PBS). He needs to be there to talk with me and comfort me when my mother is falling apart. I need one stable parent.
I really did score getting him for a dad. He is amazingly supportive of his kids, as well anyone he meets. Just today I had two friends tell me they wished he was their dad.
One of my favorite dad memories happened when I was a sophomore in high school. I was sitting in class when a voice came over the speaker and told me my dad was picking me up for lunch. I thought I was the shit getting to miss cafeteria food. When I got to the car my brother was also there, and to be honest I was a little confused. My dad was not a pick you up take you to lunch guy. At first I thought someone died and he was trying to soften the blow with a milk shake (which is what he did when our dog died). Instead of McDonald's or Carl's Jr he took us to a homeless shelter. As we pulled up he talked to us about how important it was to help others. He knew the directer of the shelter, and so for lunch that day we served mashed potatoes and some meat with gravy. I remember thinking in that moment he was the coolest guy ever.
In recent years something I have treasured was going with him to see Paul McCartney. Dad is a big Beatles fan. As a child he used to tell me all about the stories behind the songs. He was so excited when we were old enough to fully appreciate "Let It Be." For as much as he loved the Beatles he never had the chance to see them in person. Over a year ago Paul went on tour and my dad and I drove 3 hours to see him. I sat next to him and cried as Paul sang all the songs that mean the most to my dad. I told him that I was crying because of Paul, but really it was because I knew how special that night was. There are moments in my life that I know are special even as I am experiencing them and that one. The plan was to stay in a hotel after the concert, but my dad was so jazzed up after the concert that he drove straight home talking about how great all the songs were. I tried to sleep as songs ran through my head.
On Friday night at dinner we reminisced about all the stories that come up when families are together. We laughed about his love for instant coffee and Seinfeld. And then he began singing "Happy Birthday" to himself when the cake came -- before anyone else was ready to sing, and even when we all joined in his voice was still the loudest.
Just so you don't think he is a paragon of virtue I should tell you he is basically a big ball of republicanism (who says he's "independent", but I call him on his voting record for the past 20 years). Since I am a big old Democrat this can lead to all sorts of fun debates. Last week he told me he wondered if global warming even existed. Sometimes I wonder if he says this stuff just so we'll argue. I can't wait for the presidential elections. He is also a workaholic who doesn't want to trouble others, so he does everything himself.
In honor of his birthday and Father's day I dedicate this post to my dad. Thanks for everthing you do, and here is to 55 more years of memories.