Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday. It's not a monumental "5" or "0", but it's the first one he's had since I started writing this blog, and who knows how long I'll do this here blog, so I'm going to post a whole bunch of pictures of my sweet father and tell you a little more about him.

When I did a post for my mom on her birthday last fall, incidentally, she thought it read like an obituary. That was not my intention then. And it is not my intention now to sound like one - first of all, the information is solely based on my knowledge and recollection, which is shoddy at best and incomplete. And, it's from my point of view. Secondly, I plan for my parents both to live a very long time and I won't be writing anything like an obituary for quite some time. This is meant to be a TRIBUTE to wish him a Happy Birthday, and to tell you, my wonderful 17 blog readers, a bit about him. Just so we're clear.

As in previous posts where I try to post old photos, I just don't have a whole bunch at my disposal here in Texas. So, I have to go with what I have. So, here we go.

This is an early photo of my dad, of course. Isn't he cute?

My dad grew up in and around Shelbyville, IN. They moved from little town to little town, but he graduated from Shelbyville HS. My grandmother used to tell stories about how he was a talkative and active boy. He had one older brother, my Uncle Kenny. She used to say my Uncle Kenny, who many people would describe as on the quiet side, talked a blue streak until my dad came along. Then he couldn't get a word in edgewise, so he left the talking to dad. He also has one younger brother and two younger sisters, and two step-brothers. Big family.

He's still a big kid - swinging with Steve

Grandma used to also tell this story about how he'd come home from school - she knew he was home by the time he hit the property - by the time he got to the front wooden porch, he was stomping his feet and/or dragging his books - generally making a racket. Then, he'd swing open the screen door and let it slam behind him. But, he then felt it necessary to yell at a loud volume, "Mom! I'm home!" just in case she didn't know.

She also said she used to pray that he got paid back one day with active children of his own and she says he did. Four times.

Uncle Kenny and Dad in their "Navy" sweatshirts.

Right out of high school, my dad joined the Navy and immediately got sent on a ship during the Cuban Missile Crisis - he was scheduled to go to corpsman training, but had not been sent yet. So, while the tension mounted all around the situation, he says sat in the sick bay PRAYING nothing would happen because he wasn't trained to treat anyone with more than a band-aid. That one worked out in his favor.

He married to my older brothers' mother, Loretta, and had my older brothers in his early 20's. They lived in Virginia and Rhode Island, for sure, and maybe other places, and he spent a lot of time on a ship when they were young. He was on a ship in the Mediterranean for a while. He says he got to see a lot of the world compliments of the US Navy. When a ship would go into a port, it would dock for three days. Most sailors would have work to do while in port, and get a one day pass off the ship. But, as a corpsman, while docked, his only duties were to hand out medications to those who needed them and then he was free to explore the port city. So, he really got to see some of those foreign cities in detail.

He also spent some time in Vietnam with the Marines. He doesn't talk a lot about this time, but I remember him talking about going to guerrilla warfare school a couple of times. He said they taught them to walk THROUGH the mud puddles, because the Vietnamese would do so, but Americans walk around them. So, the Vietcong would put landmines at the edge of puddles to injure the Americans. He said he learned the Vietnamese tradition at a meal, when you are full, or completely satisfied, is to leave a little food on your plate. If you clean your plate, it is a sign that you are still hungry and the host hasn't satisfied your appetite. He, when a guest in a local home, kept cleaning his plate like a good American and they kept filling it. Until, at some point, he could eat not one more thing. Then they felt they had been good hosts! He used to eat the most "disgusting" food to me and my brother as a child - it did not smell good, it was foreign and gross as far as we were concerned - I'm sure he learned to eat those things during his time overseas. And, that it probably wasn't really that disgusting.

After the Navy, he moved back to Indianapolis. He noticed on back of a tube of bacitracin that the manufacturer, Eli Lilly & Company, was in Indianapolis, and he figured with his experience as a corpsman he could get a job there. He did get a job there, but not using his corpsman training. I'm not totally sure on this, but I think he was a janitor when he started working at Lilly...I think.

He moved his way into lab jobs, went to night school to get his degree, and kept working at Lilly until 10 years ago this month, when he took early retirement. So, I guess it worked out after all.

Dad and Mom at their wedding, greeting his grandmother.

He met my mom at Lilly too, so I guess I should be glad he read the back of that tube! My parents were married and had me two years later, and my brother two years after that. I wish I had more photos from when I was born or when we were little, but those are in Indy. Suffice it to say, though, we had a good childhood. And my dad was a good dad. I, being the only girl, pretty much had him wrapped right around my little finger. Yep, I did. There's a special thing between dads and daughters, and we're no different.

My mom and dad - barely pregnant with me.
The robe was a Christmas gift...not a smoking jacket. ;-)

I think I told you before that he used to tell me the fireworks on July 4th were in celebration of my birthday. Yep, he did that.

I started wearing glasses when I was eight. He used to come into my room to tuck me in at night, and he'd take my glasses off and put them onto one of my stuffed animals every night. it was our little nighttime ritual. I always thought it was funny, and waited to see which animal he'd pick. Then he'd tuck me in real tight and give me a kiss goodnight.

I remember when I was first asked out to a dance - the boy asked me on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to go to a Christmas dance. We were sitting around at home that weekend and I mentioned it over dinner. My dad said, "What did you tell him?" I told him, "I told him I'd think about it and let him know next week." My dad was flabbergasted - he said - "What? You are going to make that poor boy wait FOUR DAYS to tell him if you'll go to the dance with him or not?" I shrugged my shoulders. "Yeah, I guess." Dad then said, "No you're not. You're going to call him right now and tell him yes or no." So, I did. After dinner I told the boy I'd go. Geez, dad.

My parents divorced when I was in high school and I could write volumes about how sad that made me. But, that's not very interesting to read. And, the thing I want to say about that in this post is that my dad didn't stop being my dad then - he was just as active and involved with our lives as he'd ever been. He bought a video camera - back when video cameras were very expensive and HUGE - and he dragged that thing to everything we were in. We used to joke that he had a camera mount surgically installed in his shoulder. Maybe an extra battery pack too. If we were in a parade, he'd shoot us from one side and run ahead to get us from the other side. Then, maybe he'd climb a tree to get an overhead shot. Or, avail himself of the middle of the road and shoot up where we had to walk around him - the whole band that is. Yeah, as a teenager, this was not an endearing trait. It was embarrassing. But, it's great to have those videos now. I'm glad he did it.

He also bought me a car in high school - an ash blue was a cool car. Very cool. Of course, when the camaro was in the shop, I had to drive the 1978 Suburban to school - it's key shaft was broken, so you turned the "key" with a monkey wrench. And it sounded like a Sherman tank. Somehow, on days I had the Suburban, I had less "takers" for the school carpool than when I had the camaro. No joke.

I got a speeding ticket in high school in that car - in a speed trap on my way to Indiana State Band rehearsal. Doing 45 in a 30 - we were running late because when I went to pick up my friend the tuba player he was still asleep. Ahem.

I was mortified about the ticket. I was a good kid. A nerdy kid. A squeaky clean kid - I followed the rules. I didn't get speeding tickets. I decided to tell my dad, because I figured he'd be more lenient than my mom would be. I started in - I told him I did a horrible thing. I was crying, I'm pretty sure. I was wringing my hands, pacing, holding my head, really working it up. And, mind you, this was not an act. I thought it was THAT BAD. By the time I told my dad it was a speeding ticket, he was SO RELIEVED all it was was a speeding ticket! He took it out of my hand and told me he'd take care of it and it was no big deal. And, a few years under my belt in the "real world" I can see it wasn't that big of a deal. But, in my little world at the time, I thought they might hang me for it.

He moved me and my worldly possessions a few times during the college years - once out of a storage unit where, on a 102 degree day, he and Torchy didn't find the elevator and took everything - everything - down three flights of stairs to load it up in the truck.

Of course, I've mentioned the trip to Florida with Grandma and Dad in college...

...those pictures are from that trip.

This photo - dad used to LOVE to get ME to pose for strange photos - I have some from that Florida trip - like I'm being eaten by a shark, or run over by a car, etc. So, a few years ago when we went to the Childrens Museum in Indianapolis (best childrens museum anywhere) I made him stand there and "look like" he was being chased by a dinosaur. He did it. God love him.

He even kept my cat Ebony after I moved away to college until his death some years later. Now, I don't think he was heaping affection on the animal - he's not the animal freak I am - but he gave him a home when I was in the transient stage of my life, moving to and fro. I remember when we were little he took one of our cats to the vet once, and he had it on a leash. He was sitting in the waiting room and this lady came in - an animal freak like me - and commented on how amazed she was he taught his cat to walk on a leash. To which my dad responded, "He doesn't walk on a leash. I just drag him." The woman was mortified.

My dad and I - we're both criers. We are. Softies. And we can cry at the drop of a hat if the other one of us is crying. Before the hat hits the floor. I remember in college there was this Oreo commercial where a dad and a daughter share some oreos together - she was all grown up but she still let him split the oreo open for her. I called him to ask him if he had seen it and I couldn't even get through the description. He knew which one it was though, and he was crying too. We're saps. Both of us.

An obviously posed set of shots here of the penny in the shoe...

He walked me down the aisle at my wedding, of course. But, because of the aforementioned crying affliction, I threatened him within an inch of his life that he COULD NOT CRY or I would cry too. If you look at these photos from the wedding - until the ones after the ceremony where we're dancing - he looks pensive to me - like he's working really hard at not crying. Thanks Dad for doing that. I really appreciate it.

Me and dad walking down the aisle.

Walking down the aisle at the wedding was the hardest part of the whole thing for me - all those people staring at ME. I hated it. It was a long walk to my groom. But, I was glad my dad was the one with me!

At the reception...
...happier and more relaxed. Whew.

Bob, me, Dad, Steve, Rick
on Steve's 30th birthday

He's proud of all of his kids and loves them a lot.

Steve's graduation from electrican school.
He was saludatorian of his class.

My dad loves his grandchildren, too - he's got a gaggle of them from my three brothers and also two step-granddaughters from his wife Torchy's side.

And, he's got a GREAT-grandson too.

Dad holding Austin when he was born.

Dad and Veda

Dad and Amber when Amber was about six, I think.

And, dancing with Amber at her wedding.

Dad at Deacon's kindergarten graduation last month.

Dad and Cora handing out the Halloween candy.

Dad and Austin when he was around 2.

Dad with Deacon as a baby

Dad and a younger Veda

He loves them all and loves spending time with them. (I could find no good photos with dad and just Nathon, Ryon or Jessie - another photo op on the list for next time.)

Dad on the Lionshead Gondola near Vail, CO.

Now that I live "far away" he visits me regularly. He even went to Vail with me when I went there for work a few years back. We had a great time in the cool mountains.

He bought a cowboy hat on that trip - I love that photo of him, even if it is a little blurry. He visits me in Dallas too, though, where I spend too much money on fried chicken for his taste.

January 2008

Dad and Torchy have worked really hard the last two years to lose weight. You can tell they have done it too.

March 2009

They are going to the gym each day for at least two hours and watching what they eat. I'm so proud of them - what an accomplishment and a good thing for their health.

So, as you can see, I've got a great father. And I love him very much. And I should stop the reminiscing before this post is longer than the whole blog.

So, there you go, a long post to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I LOVE YOU!
And, I hope you have a great day and MANY MORE HAPPY BIRTHDAYS!


  1. Hi Sweetheart,
    I don't know where you get it that (sob) I am sappy? It is a beautiful birthday recognition and I love you for it. Unconditional love says you can't do anything to make me love you more than I already do....well sometimes you challenge that defination. I too have many happy memories of your childhood and the memories just keep on coming with each year. Thank you.



    ps, forgot password again, so I will have to be anonymous

  2. i remember you crying about that oreo commercial :)

  3. I wish a speeding ticket was all I got into back then. Happy Birthday, Dad. -Steve

  4. It is almost (not my birthday) since it is now 11:51. I had a great day with my eldest son Bob. I am sooo blessed with children and loved ones. I want to take this late opportunity to just (once again) tell you Amy how much I appreciate your taking the time to honor my birthday. 66 with 20 more ot go....



  5. I really enjoyed the walk thru memory lane with you Amy,I learned some things about my dear Brother that I didn't know,Thanks

    Uncle Kenny


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