My wonderful dad is 89 today.
I really don’t remember my biological father at all. But I remember my dad from Day One. He and Mom began dating after her divorce, and the three of us used to go on picnics together. During one picnic, Dad and I were off picking bright yellow buttercups, and I asked him if I could call him ‘Daddy.’ I guess it was okay with him, because on December 27, 1955, he and Mom married (with me as a short and wiggly 4-year old bridesmaid) in his parents’ front room at Mirror Lake, NH. I remember being especially happy about having cake afterwards; I now had my Daddy and cake.
He and Mom have been there for every important and even the not-so-important event in my life, from grade school on to high schools and the plays I was in and the proms I went to, then on to college, and on to working life and my own place to live, and later; one bad marriage and then one really good one (11 years so far!).
There are so many sweet and wonderful things I remember about growing up with Dad. When I was in grade school, I developed a serious eye infection that caused my eye to swell alarmingly. I had to have the fluid drained in a doctor’s office and my mom couldn’t stand to see me hurt. Dad went in with me and held my hand.
Each 4th of July, the Midway came to town, and set up rides and booths and games, with fireworks after dark. Mom had bought me a pretty orange-flowered dress she called a chemise, and I loved it. Dad said that he would take me out to the fair, just the two of us. I wore my new chemise and felt like a princess.
I remember feeling embarrassed that my parents hugged and kissed each other so much (and me, too). I knew that other parents didn’t act that way–I now know that my parents were and are the lucky ones. After nearly six decades together, they are still as huggy and kissy as ever.
Dad taught me how to change a tire, build a good campfire (and how to put it out), use a jack-knife properly, how to target-shoot, how to dance, how to ski, how to ride a bike, how to drive stick-shift, how to skate, how to make a paper airplane and so much more. He even let me get a kitten when I was six; a sweet gray and white one we named Henny. He taught me how to take care of things so that they would last, and he taught me about accountability. He told me that I needed to learn to do as much as I could on my own so that I wouldn’t have to depend on ‘some man’ to take care of me. He taught me about honesty and earning my way.
When I started skiing, I really wanted a pair of the new stretch ski-pants that the skiers were wearing. I told Dad how much I wanted them. He told me how much he didn’t want to shovel the driveway, but that I could and therefore earn my stretch pants. I took that deal: I earned the money for them, took good care of them and wore them until they fell apart.
Once he took me out of school on a breath-takingly gorgeous winter day to ski at Wild Cat, one of the best ski slopes at the time. I remember it being so bright and cold, and seeing the ice glitter on the trees. Dad could ski like an angel, seeming to float down the slope so gracefully. To this day, he still skis and he is still as graceful as ever.
Dad was a professional photographer and took nearly everyone’s senior picture for the high school yearbook, as well as for all the sports teams, the band, all the school clubs and all the plays. When I got the lead in “The King and I” in my senior year, Dad took pictures all during the dress rehearsal. He stayed up all night so that he could present me with a beautiful photo album on opening night. He signed it, “My love, my life, my joy, my Jane.” I have it still and treasure it.
When I went to my first prom, he told Mom to take me out and buy me a dress. I heard him tell her, ‘buy her whatever she wants.’ I felt like royalty that night in my beautiful white gown covered with a net of lace snowflakes, white satin heels AND a rhinestone tiara!
He once told me years ago that he was afraid that he hadn’t ‘been there’ enough for me when I was growing up; I told him that he most definitely had. His answer was, ‘well, I was just terribly interested in everything you did.’ To which I replied, ‘Dad, that’s called BEING THERE!’
Today he lives a wonderfully healthy life, and studies all he can about healthy living, diet, exercise and positive thinking. He regularly skis, bikes, walks, kayaks and does yoga and meditation every day. When Mom was diagnosed with cancer, he immediately put her on the Cancer Diet (whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, small amounts of lean protein, no sugar, and no processed foods). This has literally saved her life. Today they are both healthy, fit people who enjoy life to the fullest.
Dad often says that he sees no reason why he shouldn’t live to be 100. I told him that I agreed–but told him if he was going to live that long , he needs to buy more pants!
I am proud of my dad, and grateful to the heart for the positive influence he has in my life. There are so many more stories I could tell you about my dad; countless times he has been there for me, helped me, encouraged me, lifted me up and set me straight. However, the most important thing to know about my dad is that I love him with all my heart and am so glad he is my dad.