Sunday, April 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dad

My father turns 92 today.

That seems like an unbelievable number on so many fronts. First, because he remains thoughtful, articulate, vital, and incisive and I know so many people, far younger than he who have disengaged with life. Second, because that means I am not too many months away from 52. And third, for the sheer amount of life he has crammed into those years.

Me and my Dad, 2013-ish

So, the fact that he's 92, means that he was born in 1923. I think about what he has seen and experienced on history's grand stage and am amazed. A child of the depression, he lived through his family losing everything and having to struggle to survive. He saw Jackie Robinson play in the minor leagues and then in the majors. The Brooklyn Dodgers and their betrayal. WWII and his service as a sonar operator on an ocean going tug. Technology: from television to a moon landing to computers shrinking from the size of a building to something to hold in the palm of your hand.

A Brooklyn boy goes to war.
Along with a love of baseball, he instilled in me a set of values and morals I live by to this day.
  • Do your best  
"If your job is digging ditches, dig the best damn ditch you can."
  •  Treat others with integrity
Even now, at age 92 and living in an apartment in a life-care/assisted living community, he treats everyone around him, from fellow residents, to health care staff, to janitors and personal care attendants with respect and I've seen him tell off other elderly residents when they don't do the same.
  •   Understand the value of work
My father taught me three financial guidelines as a child that I will never forget:  
- Save first
- If you can't afford it today, wait until you can
- To quickly find your own value for something, translate the price tag into the number of hours you had to work for what you want to buy. 
I am grateful - so very grateful - for the years I have had with this incredible man. As his health declines, I know that each visit is precious, each day a gift. He lives too far away for me to see him as often as I'd like and today I will call him, sing "Happy Birthday" and tell him how much I love him.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  I wish I could be there with you today.


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