Happy Birthday to a Life Well Lived, Dad’s

When you are growing up, birthdays are a celebration.  And for those of us who are still growing up, they are still a celebration.  (I like to take a week or so to celebrate mine.)  So today should be a celebration.  It is the birthday of someone very special.  I am just not sure he knew it.  Certainly never acted like it.  Was often told, but didn’t make a big deal of it.  While he was loud, he was also soft, and soft-spoken.  A man of contradictions and yet very predictable. 

Happy Birthday to the one who:

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    • Taught me to respect women.  Especially my mother, and told me never to disrespect my wife.  I should put her ahead of my mother…just don’t let mom know it.  Always, always show respect above all else, even if you do not agree with them on something, most things, ever.  (One time he joked with me about why he taught me to allow women to go first…so you could check out their butt.  Makes sense to me…)
    • Introduced me to jazz music and showed me how to listen to Miles Davis, John Coltrane and others.
    • Taught me the importance of doing your chores.  I used to be made to finish mowing the lawn and then raking it before I was allowed to play ball with my friends.  (I remember thinking that I did not want to be a farmer…I wanted to be a baseball player!)
    • Could start our house on fire just by lighting the grill for a bar-b-cue.
    • Told me that artichoke hearts were fish hearts…
    • Taught me to really enjoy raw oysters, smoked oysters and most any seafood imagined.  (There really wasn’t much food he didn’t enjoy)
    • Showed me the real meaning of sacrifice that one will do for his family.  Of course many people have done this.  And some to a much greater extent.  But I didn’t experience those first hand.  This one I experienced first hand.  Every day.  He was teaching and I was the pupil…I just didn’t know it at the time.  He did without, or with less, so we could have a little, or a little bit more.
    • Encouraged me to have a sense of fashion.  Dapper at times, trendy, over the top, and classic.  All of the above.  Not that he showed me what was fashionable, or what was terrible, he showed me to experiment, try something a little different, unique, but be careful because you will stand out.  Sometimes that is not a good thing.  (And yes, this includes the plaid blazers and THE plaid suit affectionately called “The Clown Suit”)

  •  
    • Showed me the value of hard work and that it is nothing to be afraid of…regardless of what it is.  He would work at any time of the day, any day or night, for however long was needed, rain, snow, soaring…no, searing temperatures.  And never complained about having to do it.  He was glad to do it and proud that he did it.
    • Took me to my first baseball game and to Stan Musial’s last game.  Thus creating a life long love for the St Louis Cardinals.

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    • Bought me my first pair of soccer shoes…a pair with “soft” toes.  Back in the day, most soccer shoes had hard toes…almost like work boots.  He thought that encouraged you to kick with your toes…which was a no-no in soccer.  So I would be forced to control my “kicks”, I was the only kid in Florissant, probably all of the St Louis Metro area, that had “soft” toed soccer shoes in 1962.
    • Instilled the love of reading books in me.
    • Made me understand what dedication to your family really meant…and why it was important.  It is more than a responsibility…it is a love.  A love that is deep within you.  One that stays with you and grows every time you are together.  A love that is a gift.  One that is remarkable.  One to be thankful for.
    • Showed me strength by not complaining as he was dying of cancer.  He felt like crap, ached, was tired and confused.  But he never complained, questioned why God chose him to go through this, or got angry because of it.  He was apologetic at times because he did not want to inconvenience anyone. He was strong.

So, Happy Birthday Dad.  Raise a Guinness, Scotch, Martini or just a plain ole’ Falstaff because it was on sale at Tomboy Grocery store, and here’s to you, Big Al.  As you used to say, you are still the biggest one of them all.  And we love you for it.  You better not change.  Here’s to life, your life as only you could live it.

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Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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