Dad, we just celebrated your 80th (!!) birthday eight days ago. I collected memories and wishes from friends and families to make a poster board for you and while I added a couple of snippets myself, I saved my memories for this column.
Where do I begin – well, I think the obvious choice is to say that I love you, a lot. I mean I love you so much that my love could loop the entire world – several times. You have ALWAYS been there for me.
I remember you working 2 jobs when I was little to keep us all fed and clothed. You have always been an outdoorsman – loving to hunt and fish. And of course you create the most amazing and beautiful muzzleloader flintlock rifles from blocks of wood. I enjoyed tagging along with you to rendezvous shoots where I could see you in action, nailing those center targets with ease.
Some of my favorite memories are of us piling into that old Bonneville and making the jaunt to California. Years later, you were selling that dear old car and I meandered into the backyard as you were telling a prospective buyer about how great of a car “the old girl had been”. I climbed up on the hood and gave the “old girl” a loving pat and wondered if you would tell that I had “crashed” her into the lilac bush when I was five from jumping around in the car while it was started and kicking it into gear and it did a sloooow roll down the driveway into the bush. And now I must confess that it was I, not Mom, who pretty much destroyed the exhaust system on your Dodge Dart back in 1979 while I had my Learner’s Permit. I backed into garbage cans at Long John Silver’s and was never going to drive again, so Mom took the blame. Sorry.
I recall fondly our sled riding parties and countless wiener roasts over piles of wood. And those times when you and Mom took all 3 of us kids fishing and spent the entire time getting lines out of trees? Priceless.
You would carry me upstairs at night when I fell asleep on the couch. You did this for many years, until my legs dragged on the steps. Another confession – most of the times I really wasn’t asleep, I was just too lazy to walk upstairs – plus, it was nice being carried.
Things I have inherited from you: a quick temper, a reluctance to admit that I am wrong, procrastination and not wanting anyone to pass me while I am driving. I have also inherited wanting to help people, believing that although we are both small in stature – we won’t be pushed around by anyone, to always give a firm handshake and look people in the eye when greeting them.
You have been the grandfather or “Pappy” to my kids that I never had when I was young. You will literally drop everything you are doing to help your grandkids and now your great-grandkids. You never fail to end a phone conversation or a visit with an “I love you.”
I am running out of space but never out of appreciation and admiration for you, Dad. The recurring theme of the memories I collected from others was your big heart in helping anyone in need and your hugs. You have left an indelible mark in the lives of so many people that will remain there for all eternity. You are a kind, wonderful, thoughtful, and amazing man. You are MY Dad and I am so blessed to say that I am your daughter. You may be 80 and I may be 55 – but I will always, always, always be Daddy’s little girl. I love you.