Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

My father and mother pose with my brother, capped and gowned for his May 1978 high school graduation.
I don’t remember that we ever celebrated my father’s birthday with much fanfare when he was alive. But on this anniversary of his birth, here are some random memories about him:

- You never had to wonder where he stood. He was not afraid to take a stand contrary to the crowd; but his style was more often love and humor than confrontation.

- He was generous in showing affection. He never missed an opportunity to give my mother a hug and a kiss, whether anyone was watching or not. He was a hugger with my brother and me, too. Only as an adult did I recognize how important that was to the way I grew up. What a gift to grow up secure in the knowledge that my parents loved each other and loved my brother and me.

- He worked fulltime with the postal service while also managing and maintaining his own rental houses and those of a relative, fulfilling the weekly and summertime obligations of the Army Reserve, and working in our church and the Gideons. He worked just as enthusiastically at “leisure” activities: Keeping the yards of the homes where we lived ever changing and interesting; fishing and maintaining a houseboat then later a camp; scouring yard sales for interesting finds; reading; collecting stamps, coins, books and friends; and investing in the stock market.

- He and my mother made laughter a staple of our daily life. 

- He valued education, passing along his high standards to his children by example. He encouraged my mother to finish her bachelor’s degree. She became an elementary teacher and later earned her master’s in education. He earned his own bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi while he fed his passion for history with intermittent university courses.

- He fought in the Philippines in World War II. He occasionally talked about comrades and friends he had made in the Philippines but rarely about his combat experiences. Television episodes involving combat sometimes brought on nightmares.

- He died more than two decades ago, but his influence lives on.

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