Today is my father’s 88th birthday.
My husband, daughters, their significant others, and grandchildren will gather together to celebrate the occasion over dinner. On Sunday. Not today, his birthday. Because he’s already got plans. A soiree with his friends. Gentlemen in the Jesters. He’ll drive himself wearing his tux on this cold winter evening to join them. At 88. That’s my dad.
Then he’ll sleep in his chair for a few days to recover. With the Western Channel on TV and a crossword puzzle and pen in his hand. That’s my dad.
On Sunday he’ll get a couple of new warm sweaters in a size medium, a smaller size than he’s worn most of his life, and his annual Shooter’s Bible to keep him engaged, and he’s good to go! And don’t forget the ice cream cake. His favorite!
My dad may not hear quite as well this year, be may be a little smaller this year, a little slower this year, but mentally he’s just as sharp as he ever was.
If he can capture your attention for a few minutes, he’ll captivate you with his tales of life. His many relocations, his schools, his jobs, his Oklahoma backroads tales of gangsters and bar room fights, and his family and friends.
He’s seen and heard and done alot over his lifetime. He’s got some wild tales. Living with my dad is like being live on the set of Second Hand Lions. Or Big Fish. Some of his tales are so unbelievable that you don’t believe them. But I know differently on many. I’ve been there.
If you’ve got some time on your hands drop on by. He’ll keep you entertained. His room alone is a little Gilcrease museum with its guns and knives and mounted wildlife and photographs alone. Who else grew up with iron bars on their windows and doors and an authentic full black bear mounted on their wall other than me?
His hair is thinning, and is turning a subtle shade of gray. Not so many wrinkles you’ll find on him. His side of the family ages quite well. Well preserved i might add. Thanks to his years of libations, I’m sure. 😉 But for an 88 year old man, he’s still looking pretty fine. He gets up each morning and dresses in style. He still takes his clothing to the dry cleaners regardless of whether he’ll even see a soul that day.
My dad was not a teacher. He was more the self made entrepreneur. He’s always been quite the story teller. But he was a worker. He owned a construction company, and worked many late hours throughout my childhood. But he was always there for my horse shows and my college dad daughter weekends.
I don’t recall him teaching me very much at all. By sitting down and instructing. That was my mother’s calling. I do recall many a night of frustration over math homework sitting at the kitchen table. He always knew all the right answers, in his head, but he never knew how to show his work on the paper. That wouldn’t cut it with my teachers. I’ll never forget him teaching me to drive a stick. I was the worst. I panicked each time the car rolled.
What my dad did teach me I learned between the lines. And later in life. The biggest lesson he taught me was to always have the front door open. To others.To welcome them into your home. Your life. Not literally. Funny, coming from a man who built our home with iron bars on each door and window!
As I now live with him years later, and find the time to listen. To slow down. To really hear his stories. I realize, he’s got a wealth of knowledge and experience. Why didn’t I ever listen before?
I encourage each of you today if you still have your aging parents around, slow down and listen. Give them the gift of your time whether it’s their birthday or not. The gift you get in return will be priceless. You’ll get your legacy. Your heritage. Who you are. Who your children and grandchildren are. Take a moment today. Don’t just hear. But truly listen.
Happy birthday to my dad! i love you! ❤
A gray head is a crown of glory, it is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31
Love and laughter,