Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy 59th Birthday, Dad!

Mom and Dad's birthdays are one year and one week apart, but Mom was older than Dad. When I think of my dad, first, I am very thankful that we still have him. Losing one parent makes you even more thankful for the one you still have. Second, I think of what a great man I have the privilege of calling "Dad". The memories that are written in the past tense occurred during my childhood and single years.

My dad is a hard worker. He always has been and always will be. It is in his nature. However, despite the fact that he has always done his best at whatever he has attempted, he never neglected his family. Many times, you hear of pastors' children who rebelled against the Lord and the faith of their fathers because they were neglected by their fathers as they were out saving the world. Not so with my dad. In fact, when he was interviewing for a position at a church, he always made sure that they understood two things: 1) they were hiring him not him and my mother. Her ministry was to minister to him. 2) His day off was his day off. He valued his time with his family and would not be reached unless due to an emergency. To make sure that he was not disturbed on his day off, he would take us out for the day.

My dad's day off was Monday (for a short time, he took Fridays off), and since we were home schooled, Dad's day off was our day off. Because this was before the age of cell phones (did we really survive without them? Oops, Dad works as a supervisor for Verizon wireless. Better take that thought back!), if he was not at home, he could not be reached. So we would go. My dad took us to state parks, historical sites, hiking, zoos, and malls. We have been to Canada, the Bahamas, Vermont, Maine (just to eat a lobster), Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, the Florida Keys, and because we drove everywhere we went, we have passed through all of the states in between. I have eaten a Maine lobster, stood at Niagara Falls, climbed down Stone Mountain, walked through West Point, seen a Cherokee reservation, and gone on more motor boat rides and eaten more of Dad's grilled hamburgers than I can count. Dad was always full of great adventures.

My dad and I are very similar in personality. My mother at times would tell us to look at each other. Then she would say, "You are looking at yourself." I think she was saying this to Dad more than to me. Dad and I can joke around with each other. Our humor with each other tends to be that dry sense of humor. I know how to make him really laugh.

Mom was our teacher and Dad was the principal. That is how our home school ran. His name (Fred) means "peaceful ruler", and he was always fair.

My dad taught me how to drive. At first Mom tried, but that just didn't work. Dad would take me to an empty high school parking lot and we would drive in circles (I thought I was flying at 10 mph!). The week before I began college, he and I began waking up at the time I would have to get up for classes, hop in the car so that I could drive the hour each way to and from college, and we would stop for breakfast at McDonald's on the way home. I never forgot those times, Dad.

My dad knew that I had a fear of performing in front of people (for those of you who knew me at our last church, you can see how God took away that fear). At my college recital (a 30 minute piano performance), my dad did not sit in the audience to hear me play. He stood at the bottom of the stairs of the performance hall so as to not make me nervous. I didn't know about that until my mother told me later.

My dad is extremely intelligent. He still has all of the medals he received for having the highest grades while in junior high and high school. He earned A's in all of his course work while earning his degrees and has his doctorate degree. He always has three books going at once. His personal library holds more than a thousand books! Literally! Many of them are now in boxes in the garage, but there was a time when his home and work offices were just lined with his massive collection. When people would see his books, they always asked the same question, "Have you read all of these?" The answer was no, because some of them were reference books, but he had read many of them. Because he had always taught Sunday School classes, he was always studying for a lesson. My favorite times were when he had "Bible Answer Man" days thrown into his lessons. During those times, his students could ask him any Bible question they wanted, and he would answer them based on all of his previous study. I think he liked those days too, because he loves a challenge and the questions kept him on his toes.

My dad has a way with people. While working as the business administrator at the church and school that Faye and I also worked at, I had the opportunity to see him interact with students when the principal was out. I remember being in his office during my break when one little boy was brought in. My dad talked to him so kindly that by the end of his talk, the teacher's assistant and I both felt good. In fact, the teacher's assistant who was upset when she brought the little boy to my dad seemed to have found a new love for the little offender on the way out of the office. That is the effect my dad has on people. He helps talk you through a situation so that by the end of your conversation, the world you thought was crumbling is now back in one piece.

My dad remembers the important dates. Dates like the his and my mom's first date. In fact, one day he came home from work with a bouquet and a small cake. Mom could not for the life of her figure out why Dad had done this. Then he said, "(So many) years ago today, you and I went on our first date!" Yeah, Mom was beside herself. He remembers the date they got engaged. The only dates he just can't seem to get right are Faye's and my birth dates (hers is July 17 and mine is November 14). But that is perfectly okay. Either way, he has the month right.

My dad finds favor in whatever he does. My dad is very much like Joseph in Genesis. He does his job faithfully, and God blesses him for it. He began at Verizon as a senior trainer. It wasn't long before he was asked to take on the role of supervisor. At two of the three churches that he was on staff for, he did not seek a position. The positions were brought to him as he was working at a secular job. He only taught Sunday school, but God brought blessing upon him for faithfully serving.

My dad is a great counselor. He has given many couples premarital counseling (including me and Brian, Faye and Jim, and Lisa and Mark). I remember sitting down with him and Brian for our first session. It was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever had to do! But within 5 minutes, I was at ease because during those sessions, he was not acting as my dad but our premarital counselor. We had an awesome 13 week series of sessions.

My dad has such a soft spot for Addie. I can't tell you how many times he has tried to talk her out of doing something just so she won't get into trouble. Do I remember that same type of mercy being shown to me? Can we all say no? I guess it is true that the rules change when you have grandchildren.

My dad is a wonderful father, and I pray God's continued blessing upon him. May God give you above and beyond what you can imagine, may He give you His best, and may He grant you many more birthdays in the future. I love you, Dad...


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