Happy Birthday, Dad


Last year I wrote a post about my mom for Mother’s day and I did so with a bit of worry as to how my dad might feel if I didn’t also honor him on Father’s day.  Sure enough, I didn’t end up posting anything about him.  Being the loving father that he is, he assured me that he was unbothered by this, but I still felt a little guilt.  I plan to make up for that with today’s post.

Today is my dad’s 69th birthday and though I wasn’t able to get him all the things I wanted to get him, it occurred to me that I could do more than just send him a copy of his favorite CD. I can tell others how much he means to me.

When I am asked who the most influential person in my life is, or who my role model is, my answer is always my dad.  He is by far the most steady, supportive and loving person I know.  He is the reason I am who I am: why I’m so organized, why I’m such a perfectionist, why I did so well in school – and so much more.

I figured I could share some of my favorite memories from my childhood, but before I do I want to take a moment to recognize that the thing I love most about my dad is that he chose to be my dad.  A little over 31 years ago he was in the military and falling in love with my mother, who was a young soldier of 20 and happened to be pregnant.  I don’t know all the details (it’s not my business to know), but eventually my dad won her over.  He courted her through her pregnancy and was there the very day I was born, coaching her and translating the things the German nurses were saying (they’d gone off the military base for a day trip that day).  This, more than anything, means the world to me.  There was never any indication to me that I was not fully his own child and even now at 31, there is no other way for me to look at it.  I am, without a doubt, my father’s daughter.

I have all sorts of little flashes of memories with my dad, so I’m not sure what particular order to go in.  One of my favorite memories, perhaps, is walking the beach looking for rocks.  For whatever reason I loved collecting rocks (the pretty ones, of course) and Dad would take me up and down the shore of the lake not long before we were set to leave and we’d go on a long walk as I looked around rocks just within the water that caught my eye.  Sometimes he would point out a couple that he saw as well and once I got home I would set them all out on a towel to dry.  To me, these walks seemed endless and they always carried the feel of a grand adventure.  Looking back I recall they felt like they took forever, though I think the distance we covered seemed so large because I was so small and that had an effect on my sense of time.

Around this time my dad brought home a little collection of stones for me, each with an explanation of what they were.  I remember being so excited at the shininess and the colors.  Rose quartz, amethyst, tiger’s eye – and a couple others I can’t remember.  With them was a poem in a frame.  I don’t recall most of the poem – something about pink and lace and tom-boyishness.  “I have a little girl.”  I believe that may have been the title.  There was a little girl in a rain coat and rain boots splashing in puddles and the background of the page was grey and rainy.  I remember it so well because I can recall being upset when it fell off the wall and the glass broke.  I don’t have it anymore – it got lost somewhere in all the moves of adulthood, which makes me sad.  Anyway, I loved that poem and I loved the rocks even more.  I’m pretty sure they were a birthday gift.

Other memories involve lots of cuddles.  We were a snuggly family and my brother and I would always argue over who got to sit next to Dad.  Sitting next to Dad on the couch while watching TV was a coveted pass time.

My love of stupid movies came from my dad.  I remember sitting with him and watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and mostly just laughing because he was laughing – not really getting many of the jokes – while my mother lamented the fact that such “stupid shit” was on TV.  Even now my sense of humor is 100% dad humor.  My love of musicals comes from him as well.  My mother only liked Grease, which I absolutely loved.  It was Dad, however, that got me more into musicals by introducing me to Cry Baby (“If you like Grease, you’ll love this. It’s set in the same time period”) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. My love of musicals took on a life of its own after that.

And of course, he inspired my love of video games as well.  In the days of NES (the original Nintendo for anyone that doesn’t know), I would stay up with him as long as I was allowed and watch him play the Legend of Zelda.  The fact that he played it and explained to me the things that were happening on the screen is no doubt why anything from the Legend of Zelda series is my absolute favorite.  When we discovered the game Adventures of Lolo I would get to sit with him and figure out the puzzles (thus, inspiring my love for puzzles as well).  Later, when the NES was phased out and we finally were able to get the Nintendo 64 (we skipped the Super Nintendo) the Ocarina of Time was our game of choice. To this day, Ocarina of Time is my most favorite of all the Zelda games.  I remember being disappointed that I had to go to bed and couldn’t see the end of a level. I’d have to ask him the next day what happened.

I could go on, but I think that most of you have gotten the point.  It’s easy to see why my dad is the most influential person in my life and I count myself so blessed that he’s a part of it.

Thank you, Dad, for being such a huge part of who I am.  Thank you for being so selfless for so many years, for working to support us and working even harder to ensure that we had the kind of father all kids deserve.  It’s my deepest wish that as you celebrate your birthday today you do so knowing the difference you’ve made in not only my life, but all the lives of the family around you.  I love you!


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