Some people like to read what happened on this date in history. I don’t usually look at that unless it happens to be a red-letter day, like today is. You see, on this day in history 82 years ago, my father was born, the youngest of seven siblings, at home, in Oakley, Ohio.
Good old Dad. What a character! From the time he used ketchup to fake some injuries in order to psych out his weekly ping-pong foe, to the time he didn’t have to use ketchup after he was thrown out of the back of a pick-up while bringing a playground sized swingset home for us; from the day of his birth, the fourth of four boys, born after an interlude of three girls, to the day he met his Maker in January of 2009, Dad made a mark on this world.
Top ten things I learned from my dad:
- Being there is important. He came to every one of my high school basketball, volleyball, track meets, and softball games. He was always in the stands. I do not remember a single time when he chastised me for not doing well enough.
- Keep on keeping on. A gregarious man, but not a natural-born businessman, Dad kept a small business open for nearly 30 years in spite of financial roadblocks from a recession, wild variations in sales from month to month, and good old Uncle Sam, who often wants more taxes than we really have available to pay. You rarely, if ever, saw him without a smile and a joke to share.
- You don’t dig through a trash can for an edible piece of steak. This was his philosophy about rock music. When I would protest that there was some good and decent music out there, he’d cite this belief. I didn’t completely agree with him when I was a kid, but I do see the wisdom of it now.
- Life is to be enjoyed. From green scrambled eggs, to endless word play, to telling (the same) jokes over and over to laughing audiences, Dad knew how to have a good time. Indeed, when I think of him now, I remember his laughter and his smile.
- It’s good enough for who it’s for. Now, I’ll admit, this one scandalized perfectionistic little me. But I have also come to appreciate this sentiment from the standpoint that perfectionism is overrated. Yes, sure, do my best, but don’t stress about the little stuff. And almost all of it is little stuff.
- To recognize my value as a person and a woman. It took me a good long while to catch on to this, but my dad’s actions showed me that he thought I was valuable. That’s a pretty great gift to give to a child.
- People are more important than things. He made a decision to keep the grass free of pesticides in order to provide a safe and fun place for us to play.
- Dollar waiting on a dime. Taught me the value of recognizing that I’m not the center of the world, not because I don’t make a lot of money, but because I’m part of a very big world with many, many people in it. I still managed to sport some pretty spiffy entitlement, but I learned eventually to let that go.
- Be on time. I appreciated that about my dad, that he valued the concept of being on time, or even a little early.
- Don’t consider myself to be above the law. Which is to say, be careful about thinking that a particular law or rule doesn’t apply to me. I can choose to break a rule or a law, but not because I am somehow special.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope heaven is treating you right!