On his 80th Birthday my oldest sister put together a book of letters from each of his four daughters, other family members, and friends. I am so thankful that we did that. It’s been really comforting to read through all the letters. My letter included a top ten list of some of my favorite things about my Daddy:
- You’ve always made time for me. Whether it’s reading me Ferdinand the Bull, playing Connect Four, checking my math homework, or giving me advice on home repairs. I’ve never felt that I was bothering you.
- You value my opinion. I remember when I was in college and started to really develop my own opinions on government and politics. You never told me I was wrong about anything. You’ve always asked what I thought about things and taken my opinions into account.
- Your love of giving everything an acronym. Sometimes I have to stop and remember that not everybody has the same “terminology” as we do. I’m sure that Stevie thinks his name is really GB. After all, that’s what MNG calls him. [My bird Stevie was green. Daddy always called him GB for Green Bird. Daddy often referred to himself as MNG, Mister Nice Guy]
- Your love of knowledge. You have a love of knowledge that you’ve passed on to me. How many other people know where Timbuktu is? And I think I was the only 5th grader that knew that George Bush was the Vice-President.
- Your love for travel. I grew up being taught that there is so much in the world to see and do. I remember when I was in Israel and there was the scare that Iraq might attack. Helen’s Dad tried to talk me out of going to the Arab Quarter on Saturday by saying that he didn’t think my Dad would want me to do that. I thought, “You don’t know my Dad.”
- Your use of favorite phrases. “Should have bought a Lexus,” is the one that comes to mind. Every time I had problems with my Focus that’s what I heard. I love repeating that back at you when you call with computer problems. You should have bought a Mac!
- You’ve never met a stranger. I remember as kids when Sabrina and I would be horrified when you would start talking to a complete stranger at the mall. It’s a trait that more people should have – the world would be a friendlier place.
- Your projects. You’ve always got at least one project in the works. You see a problem and come up with a completely new “product” to solve it. I often benefit from these projects too, like a weed killing stick or a rolling cart for my heater.
- Your sense of humor. I remember when I was a kid, we always knew that it was Reader’s Digest time because we would hear those deep belly laughs coming from the den.
- Your love of nicknames. I’ve always found it funny that you were adamantly against me being called Susie, but use numerous other nicknames. I think my favorite was Turkey-Lurkey.
My Dad was 48 when I was born so I had the benefit of having an older Dad. I think he probably had more patience than a younger father might have. And he had all the time in the world for me. He was a great teacher, always quizzing me on geography and current events – things he thought everyone should know. Growing up, I watched the news with him nearly every night. In fact, I don’t remember a time that I didn’t watch the news; I probably started as a toddler. I have specific memories of watching the Challenger disaster coverage and the protests at Tiananmen Square with him. I remember him calling me at college the night of the Murrah Building bombing and telling me to turn off the TV. He knew before he called that I watched coverage all day. He instilled in me and encouraged a curiosity in the world. He provided me with the opportunity to travel and see the world as a kid and in college studying abroad. I couldn’t have asked for a better Daddy. I will be forever thankful that I got 36 great years with him.