Thursday, September 23, 2010

He Gets It. We Get Him. Everybody Wins.

A long post for a long-in-the-tooth guy!

Woot Woot! Happy Birthday Dad -- an oldie, but a goody (referencing the man and the photo)

If you have some five-and-unders in your home, you may be familiar with a DVD called Talking Words Factory. The video follows its protagonist, a frog named Tad, as he learns to combine letters to make words so that he can nominate his dad for an awesome dad award. As I thought about how I wanted to start this post about my own dad, all I could think of was Tad sounding out the words in this sentence: My dad is the best dad in the world. Although I'm a more seasoned speller, reader, and writer than young Tad, NTB, my message is the same as his: My dad is the best dad in the world.

Today my dad is 60 and in honor of this milestone birthday, I want to share some of the things I love most about and learn best from my dad.
Do you ever mean to send someone a note to say thanks, congratulations, or I'm thinking of you? Maybe a kid your son played baseball with growing up is in the paper for a recent graduation or other success. Maybe a neighbor down the street has recently retired. Maybe the guy who helped you at the cell phone store was especially helpful and friendly. Maybe a wedding you recently attended was fantastic and you want to let the parents of the couple know it. Maybe your family is facing a challenge or suffering a loss. My dad is the guy who takes the time to write those notes, to let people know that their triumphs are noted, their joys shared, and their difficulties sympathized with. He's that guy.
My dad is the guy who, without even being on Facebook, has nurtured and maintained friendships from all stages of his life. He is in regular communication with some friends he has known for forty, even fifty years or more. If he's thinking of someone, he'll pick up the phone and call. He makes plans for people to play golf, eat lunch, watch the Reds, and take trips. He does not wait for invitations or fun to fall in his lap. He makes things happen in the best possible way.
My dad is a go-getter and by that I don't just mean that he is a motivated guy who makes lists and gets things done. I mean that he will literally go get the things you want or need and do it with a great attitude. If my mom forgets something at Kroger, my dad is out the door to get it with nary an eye roll or sigh. If someone's in the mood for a fountain pop or a pizza needs to be picked up, he's ready to oblige. He even humors me by double-checking my special sauce needs at Papa Johns (pizza and cheese sauce in addition to the garlic butter). When my kids are visiting my parents, Bub already knows he can place a donut order the night before and that as long as he says please and thank you, his Pop will find him that glazed twist with chocolate and sprinkles but no filling in the middle. My sisters and I have good husbands, but we agree that none measure up to our dad in the go getting category.
My hubby recently heard Lou Holtz give a talk in which the coach talked about how important it is for children to see that their parents love each other. My dad's love and admiration for my mom (the greatest mom in the world, by the way) is clear as day and a constant source of inspiration for all five of their children.
I'm 35 and I still love my dad's pep talks. His faith in the people he loves is enormous. When he tells me I can do it, I don't need to worry, it's going to be okay, and, famously, "don't load your drawers," he's not trying to make light of my concerns but to highlight my reserves and to help me keep what really matters in perspective. Years ago when Life's Little Instruction Books were popular, one of the instructions that always inspired me was: Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know. My dad, a man of many exclamation points, is the most positive and enthusiastic person I know. And the most genuine.
Some of my dad's roles are obvious--husband, father, friend, salesman, brother/brother-in-law, uncle, cousin, fan, golfer. Whether or not he considers himself one, my dad is also a teacher. When he turned fifty, I made a list of fifty lessons I've learned from him. I'll share just a few of the most important right here: put yourself out there, be curious, be passionate about things, find a job you love, don't be afraid to ask, love without measure, you can't bullshit a bullshitter, money doesn't grow on trees, stage before you move, trust that your good intentions are clear, if you like it buy it in every color, don't nap just "rest your eyes," have a little faith, hustle, show up, don't be afraid to make pit stops when you're on the road, appreciate and nurture creativity, and try to be someone who gets it. That's one of my dad's highest compliments, saying that someone "gets it."
When I was a little girl, I loved having the chance to ride in the car with my dad. With his Neil Diamond or Kenny Rogers tapes playing in the background, he'd tell stories and I'd just love to listen to them. My chances to sit with my dad in a car and listen to stories are less frequent now, but still treasured, even if my kids are squawking in the back of the van as we drive. He tells stories about long past and recent events, asks questions about my life, and, always, always circles back to his sense of just how fast it all goes and how lucky he is to have the life he does with all the many people he loves.
"We are so lucky, Meg," my dad always says. And he is so right. We are so lucky to have him for a dad.
Happy 60th Birthday to my dad. Sorry, Tad, but my dad is the best dad in the world! Not to brag!!!!!!!!!!


Heather said...

Mep, you have made me cry with this post. Your dad sounds wonderful in every sense of the word. You are so blessed to have had a dad like growing up, and for him to still be in your lives right now.

He may not Facebook, but I hope he reads your blog and sees this post. Happy Birthday, Mep's dad!

LAP said...

Ahhh. Very nicely done. I won't even hold against you that now my hallmark card for him pales in comparison because quite frankly I know he won't.

I will add that one of our car riding chats involved a conversation in which dad said that he wanted people to be able to describe him as consistent: he is the same guy to everyone he knows. Whether it's old softball buddies, former neighbors, business associates, his family...there is no separate act around different groups of people. What you see is what you get. And, NTB, but what you get is pretty great.

Great post though I may be biased:)

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and all so very true. We love our Cal baby! m

East Coast Bro said...

MEP & LAP did a fantastic job describing Dad! As someone who has worked the past 31 years trying to emulate Dad I can tell you he is a special man..... In addition to notes, Dad sends packages. There is nothing like getting a package in the mail whether in college, right out of school, or married with kids. The package doesn't have to include high dollar items. Rather the best packages typically include a few pair of socks, article about business or life and a hand written note....Dozens of times in the past 15 years I have had a good friend of Dad's that I know or have just met for the first time put their arm on my shoulder, look me in the eyes and tell me without blinking that my dad is "A Good Man". It is the most rewarding when I hear from people I am meeting for the first time....Well done Cal, Happy birthday.

PITA said...

I smiled reading this entire post, probably because I know firsthand that it is all true! LAP, MEP, and East Coast Bro have described him so well. Without exaggeration or bias, he is exactly as they described. I have been told pretty much my entire life that I look exactly like my dad. Out of five children, I am the one that inherited many of his physical characterisitics. Sometimes, I haven't embraced the hair that requires frequent washes and possesses the inability to style, but I am still a pretty lucky girl. Cheers to a fabulous dad who is positive, refreshing, and has always supported his children no matter what! Love you Dad!

CaraBee said...

Not only do I want your dad to adopt me, I want to BE him. I aspire to everything that he is. You are so lucky to have such a wonderful man for your father.

Happy birthday, Mr. P!

dusty earth mother said...

Wow! Well, I'm not really surprised, after all he is YOUR dad. And you're pretty spectacular yourself :-)

uncle joe said...

True comments well written. As Kevin reads these postings, I'm sure his greatest joy comes from knowing his children "git it". Happy Birthday Young man

Maggie said...

Well said!

Bonnie Albers said...

Every word you wrote about your dad rings true and I have only known him for almost 40 years. Our family has received many of his handwritten notes in good times and in difficult times. He celebrates with friends and consoles them. He is the real deal and one of a kind. I know how much he loves your wonderful mom. (How could he help it??!!) Together they have raised 5 "perfect" children, who know what is important in life ... FAMILY. He is a man, friend, husband and father to admire and cherish. I feel so blessed to know him.
What a wonderful tribute!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your Dad! I agree that he is a fine man with a generous heart. His smile and enthusiasm are contagious, which is why so many people are drawn to him. Please send him my love and wishes for a great 60th! Rita

Stacia said...

Oh, I'm a burbling mess over here! This is so sweet. Sounds like he knows exactly when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, and when to pick up the special-order donuts. =>

msh said...

(i'm so so glad i stole a few minutes to catch up on some post i've missed due to baby life...) here's to all the great pater men out there. september 23rd must be a pretty special day to be born. happy belated to your dad from me! hopefully i'll run into him at fairfield flub's again sometime soon...

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