Today my Dad turns 65. My kids called him early this morning and woke him up to sing happy birthday on the speakerphone (a tradition they inherited from my Mom who calls everyone on their birthday and sings – as terribly as she can). Its just after 2 in the afternoon and He just left after bringing over a small sofa for Luke’s room. Dad and Mom average a new sofa or recliner combo every 16 months, so we end up with a lot of their brand new “old” furniture!
I started thinking about Dad and his life while chopping wood earlier this morning. He is now officially retirement age. At least for his generation. My Social Security retirement age is 72! He has slowed down a bit, but not much. He still can outwork any two men half his age when the mood hits him.
But I’m guessing most who read this don’t know much about my Dad, especially the more interesting facts. So here is my list of the top ten interesting facts about my Dad, in no particular order:
- He was born in a log cabin – seriously, he was.
- He was born in the attic loft of a log cabin with snow coming through the rafters.
- He never knew his dad. Something that made a lasting impression on me, because I got to see my Dad growing up more than most kids do. He was determined to be a good father and did the best he could – which was pretty good.
- Once during his rebellious youth he got jumped by some guys and they hit him with a 2x4. He woke up in the morgue.
- He shoots rifles and shotguns left handed but handguns and bows right-handed.
- He had his last drink of alcohol on June 10, 1971 and NEVER had another. No meetings, no self-help crap, he just made a promise to God and kept it.
- He thinks the Three Stooges are the funniest movies ever made- and he’s right.
- He first saw my mom on the elevator at the old BATA Shoe company and told the guy with him he was going to marry that girl. Less than a year later he did.
- He drove tanks in the army.
- He never went to Vietnam because mom was pregnant with me at the time and he got stomach ulcers thinking about leaving the two of us behind. He had gotten his papers to return to service but then the army rejected him because of the ulcers and never drafted him back into service.
This list may embarrass him, but shoot, I’ve made a life out of embarrassing people, especially relatives. But please, if you know him, don’t ask him about this stuff. He’d rather hear about your life or tell you about his grandsons.
The point is, I love my Dad terribly. That may seem an odd choice of words but let me explain.
In the Bible God is referred to often as “terrible”
Psalm 68:35…O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.
The word terrible there in the Hebrew means to morally revere. It is possible to love something that is terrible in power and might. God certainly is. And in his own way, so is my Dad. He brought me up with a healthy mixture of love and fear. I always have known and always will know that Dad loves me. But growing up I had a dire, mortal fear of him as well. And I am glad for it. It taught this rebellious little boy to respect power and to keep myself in place, not to think of myself as being better than others. Dad gave me the tools, through his love and fear, to deal with people and to carry myself as a man. I only hope I can do the same for both of my boys.
Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.