HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY!!

Today is my dad’s birthday. Oh how I wish I could take my motley crew and impose upon my folks to help celebrate another milestone. Instead I’m just gonna talk about him (in past tense just because I’m thinking back to when I was a kid) a little bit.

I’ve always seen my dad as a quiet, unassuming man and also one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He could carry on a conversation with a brilliant scholar or an uneducated dockworker – no one was above or beneath him. Everybody, no matter their education, station, race, whatever, received the same respect. He never flaunted his intelligence and I think there were probably a lot of people who never had any idea just how smart he really was.

He loved classical music and dixieland jazz and I would say he gave my sisters and me an appreciation for all different forms of music. I can remember him sitting in the big, plaid chair in the living room, enjoying a drink while Rossini’s William Tell Overture played on the stereo, my sisters and I galloping around the house like the Lone Ranger. Or secretly loving (though I acted embarrassed) watching him dance around with a cigar in his hand as we stood in line at the French Market Restaurant in Disneyland as the jazz band played away.

Mom and Dad were known for their ability to cut a mean rug, too. Every wedding reception where Glenn Miller’s In The Mood was played found them doing their thing on the dance floor. Embarrassing to a stupid teenager, but impressive to everyone else.

Dad taught us girls how to read a map and gave us each a pretty good sense of direction. He also taught me to fish and pee in the woods. He never managed to get me to hang over the side of a boat and pee, much to his frustration. I made him take the boat into the dock just as the fish started biting. Of course by the time we got back out to the same spot the fish had moved on.

I love the memories I have of a regular Saturday at home. He would mow and trim and do all the yard work, take a shower and clean up, and then grill in the backyard while he smoked his stogie. The smell of fresh-cut lawn, grilling meat and a cigar equal such happiness to me. Once when I was about 14 or so, I begged him to let me try his cigar. “No, no, no”, he kept saying, but I pestered and pestered. So he handed me the cigar and I took a puff, only to turn green and nearly upchuck in the flower beds. As I recall he got a big kick out of that. And I never had a desire to smoke a cigar after that!

Both my parents have always be great examples of serving others. Long before I came along they were active at church, helping in whatever way they needed to. I never thought a whole lot about it – it’s just what they did – until I got much older. Now I realize how much of their lives they’ve given to help others. Even now they work at their church and once a month at a local food pantry. Because it’s just what they do.

One of my favorite things to do growing up was our family outings after church on Sundays. Sometimes we’d drive up Western to the Tide Pools and then stop at Arthur’s Ice Cream on the way home. Or sometimes we’d take a change of clothes and a picnic lunch and go for a long ride over Mulholland or maybe up to Oak Glen for apples. When most teenagers abhorred hanging out with their folks, I loved to do these fun things with mine.

I was blessed with a very happy and secure childhood. I never doubted my parents loved me and I never doubted they loved each other. Of course Mom played a big part in this security, but today’s post is about Dad. :o) To say Dad never got mad would be a falsehood, but he wasn’t one to fly off the handle. Usually when my sisters or I were in trouble we deserved it. Of course, we may not have seen it that way at the time.

My dad and I danced to Daddy’s Hands by Holly Dunn at my wedding. I can’t hear that song twenty years later and not get choked up. I heard it in the grocery store as I was checking out a couple years ago and I could hardly hold it together. But the words couldn’t have been any more perfect:

I remember Daddy´s hands, folded silently in prayer.
And reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare.
You could read quite a story, in the callouses and lines.
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind.
I remember Daddy´s hands, how they held my Mama tight,
And patted my back, for something done right.
There are things that I´ve forgotten, that I loved about the man,
But I´ll always remember the love in Daddy´s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´.
Daddy´s hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong.
Daddy´s hands, weren´t always gentle
But I´ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy´s hands.

I remember Daddy´s hands, working ’til they bled.
Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed.
If I could do things over, I´d live my life again.
And never take for granted the love in Daddy´s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´.
Daddy´s hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong.
Daddy´s hands, weren´t always gentle
But I´ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy´s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´.
Daddy´s hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong.
Daddy´s hands, weren´t always gentle
But I´ve come to understand.
There was always love …..
In Daddy´s hands.

OH MY GOSH! I’m blubbering again! Dangit! Anyway, my dad was an electrical engineer so I doubt his job ever caused his hands to bleed, but the chorus sums up my daddy’s hands perfectly.

And speaking of his hands, I always loved them. They were always neat and clean except when he’d been working in the garage or in the yard and then he’d scrub them with Lava and they’d be clean again. I always thought of them as elegant hands and one of the first things I noticed about Todd was how he had hands like my dad’s. Isn’t it funny the things that make an impression on us?

I could go on and on and on, but I’ll bring this to a close by talking a little bit about my other dad.

Because God is an ethereal being we tend to project our own experiences to create a God we can relate to. Some people see God as distant because they had a father who was distant. Some people see God as indifferent because their father was indifferent. Some people see God as totally absent because, well, you get the idea.

Myself? I’ve never had a problem seeing God as the perfect and wonderful God He is. Loving, kind, gentle, just, stern when needed, merciful, etc. Now I’m certainly not saying my dad IS God. Just ask my mom and she’ll tell you he hasn’t walked on water. But what I am saying is that he has always been a great example of a kind and loving Father. Just like my Heavenly Father.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY!

8 Comments

  1. Lynilu on January 25, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    What a beautiful tribute, Jen. I miss my dad so much.

  2. Becky on January 25, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Awww, what a good dad you have!Happy Birthday, Jenster’s Dad!

  3. Lori on January 25, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    What a wonderful way to wish your dad a happy birthday. It made me miss my daddy.

  4. Cheryl Wray on January 25, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man! I loved reading your memories of him!Happy Birthday to Jenster’s Dad!! 🙂

  5. mel on January 26, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Very beautiful!My dad is awesome, too, and we all thank you for sharing your memories and sentiments.God bless.

  6. Gretchen on January 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    How lovely is this?!!!Many happy returns to your dad. I’m so glad you’re celebrating him with us today.

  7. The Daily Bee on January 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    This was such a sweet post. I really loved it. Almost blubbered with you there. =)Happy Birthday to Jenster’s Dad!

  8. Lainey-Paney on January 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    :)what wonderful memories…….and I haven’t heard that song in sooooo long. 🙂

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