My amazing dad is 92 today. It is a wonderful milestone, and cause for celebration. Not only has he reached this age with grace and goodness, but also in good health, a sound forward-thinking mind, joyful spirit, good humor and a heart that holds endless love, generosity and appreciation.
In previous posts I have written about how he met my mother and me, the subsequent marriage, and his adopting me. We were “wee three” for many wonderful years.
There have been endless poems and stories about what makes a dad a dad, but I know what makes Dad my dad. He was and has been there for me all my life from four years old on up until now. For everything I did that meant anything to me, he was there.
The things only a father can teach you, he taught me. He made sure that I could take care of myself and not have to rely on a boyfriend or husband to take care of me. In one week, he taught me how to use a jackknife without cutting myself, to make a perfect campfire and how to put it out successfully, and how to change a tire.
When I was old enough, he also taught me how to target shoot, and was very clear and serious about gun safety. He made sure that I understood the responsibility of owning and using a gun, and from then until now, I have a great respect for them.
When I was old enough to learn how to ski, he taught me how, and he bought me my first pair of skis. More than that, he taught me to pay attention to weather conditions, people skiing around me, and also caring for my equipment, including how to wax my skis for all types of snow conditions.
Before we moved into the house my dad now lives in, we had a terrific apartment on a hill that went right down to the lake. There was a dock that we could swim from, and in the winter time when there was ice on the lake, Dad build me the best *flying saucer run you could ask for.
It started at the top of the hill, and went all the way down to the lake. He made a short jump at the bottom, so I’d go flying down the slope, hit that rise and go airborne for a few exhilarating seconds, then land WHANG on the ice. It was great!
He taught me how to make paper airplanes, and I remember one rainy, giddy afternoon that we made a bunch of them and sailed them down the long hallway. Afterwards, we had sock races down that same hallway. I remember thinking how much fun it was and how I loved it that he could get silly with me.
So many, many years have gone by, and we have gone through so much together, good and bad. When I had to put my sweet cat, Billie, down, I was living in Texas and felt so sad and alone. I called my parents to tell them about it and broke down. I remember Dad saying softly, ‘oh Janie, I am so sad for you. I know how much you loved her.’ Somehow that made it all right, and I stopped hurting.
When the Crankee Yankee and I married, he and Mom were so happy for us. We had the most beautiful wedding in their back yard. Dad had a beautiful white trellis set up, and there was a big pot of white flowers hanging from it. Mom made our wedding cake, and Dad took all the pictures. It was a lovely day in May, and Mom and Dad made it wonderful.
When we lost Mom last year to cancer, we worked with hospice home care together. Dad was the main caretaker, and I helped out. Together we cared for Mom and made her as comfortable as we could. The three of us spoke our love and care for each other over and over again. There were millions of kisses and hugs.
There was a lot of laughter and some tears, but mainly there was love and kindness and joy. It was a sweet and precious three and a half months for us all. When Mom died, she had our love to carry with her, and to this day we feel her love for us.
Dad and I have become an army of two, and together we talk, share memories, and speak from our hearts. We tell each other that we miss Mom, but we know she is near.
Our relationship has become sweeter with what we have lived through together. We have laughed and wept and talked about all our time together, both with and without Mom. We both believe that the relationships we have on earth go on after we leave it.
I do not know what kind of person I would have been without my dad in my life. I am happy and grateful for him being my dad. Our relationship has grown and flourished and flowered over the years, and I am thankful for every moment.
For years and years in our family, birthdays, holidays, get-togethers and get-aways were celebrated with a flute of good champagne. Today is such a celebration, and whether or not we are lifting our glasses to my beloved dad, I know that Mom is raising one in Heaven (after all, that’s where the really good champagne comes from!)
Happy 92nd birthday, Dad. You are loved beyond all measure.
*Flying saucers used to be a round piece of metal (looked like a shield), and had straps to hang onto. You sat on it, grabbed the straps and pushed down a snowy hill. Inevitably, the thing would turn you around backwards, adding the extra thrill of not knowing where you were going.