padre di buon compleanno.
today is the 40th anniversary of my daddy’s 21st birthday. a christmas birthday is never an easy thing, but all my father has ever really wanted, at very least for my adult life, is to spend time with his family. he is happiest on family vacations in the summer, on weekends with my mom, or when the whole family gets together for a lovely meal during christmas time.
my dad is very intelligent, having almost gotten his PhD in mathematics and managing these complex projects with people all over the world and gajillion dollar budget, and using a language structure with which i am not familiar.
my dad is modern, enjoying his starbucks coffee, his blogs! (he loves his blogs), and being up on all the latest political goings-on.
my dad is incredibly giving, having a soft spot for just about everyone. he always answered the door when there were kids trying to sell popcorn, candy, anything for a good cause, and he always contributed. he has been more than giving to all of us children, time and time again.
my dad drinks crown royal, kept in this king cookie jar in the kitchen, but so sparingly that he only has to replenish his supply once in several years time. he long ago gave up pipe smoking, but one of my favorite images is of him, looking very distinguished, with a pipe in his hand and blowing rings into the air.
my dad’s record collection is ridiculous, and his love of rock and roll has been imprinted on all of the children. we grew up listening to vinyl recordings of the who, the guess who, the beatles, three dog night. one time in my early twenties, my dad came to run errands with me in the summer time. i put on the beatle’s white album, and my dad sang every song with the windows down and looked so happy; it was one of my favorite times with him.
i see my dad often these days, usually for 5-10 minutes at a time. he always greets me with a smile and seems so genuinely happy to see me, a trait which i absolutely treasure. our short in-person chats are fun and light, and always enjoyable.
my dad has very kind eyes and a hearty laugh, and making him laugh is never an undervalued achievement in my eyes.
my dad has worn the same University of Houston hat since forever. along with his old green robe, this is the item i associate most often with him in my mind. this type of familiarity and stability may seem boring to some, but i cherish it. my parents refused to move us when my dad got laid off when we were in middle/high school, and my dad was adamant that we should stay put and be involved as much as possible in the things we loved, even if that meant a strain for them and many late nights picking us up – which it did.
i have never heard a disparaging word about my mom come from my dad’s mouth. ever.
my dad and i see eye to eye on a lot, and also differ alot. we agree, we disagree. we connect, we can’t seem to connect. amidst all of that we have a relationship i love, and a great deal of events that bring us together.
a favorite time came last year when i heard that doris kearns goodwin, an incredibly gifted historian, author and speaker, was coming to speak at the university in pueblo. i got tickets and asked my dad to go, who quickly agreed. we drove down, talking the whole way. after eating a greasy dinner, we headed over to the school where i learned i had gotten the date wrong. it was the next week. my dad was unphased, and had said that he had just as good a time driving with me in the car. we went the next week, and had a glorious time, listening to ms. goodwin, meeting her and getting our books signed – the books my father had gotten my hooked on. we talked the whole way back.
it was the best time, all around.
so, on my daddy’s 61st birthday, i offer my little tribute and a lot of love from your youngest daughter.