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Happy Birthday, Dad.

I would like to use this opportunity to talk about nature vs nurture. It is very hard, looking back on one’s childhood, to know what parts of you are from your nature, and what parts are from the nurturing you received. I don’t care much, either, to tag each of my qualities with a sticky note. I mean, bottom line, this is me. What I do know is what I share with my parents - what qualities, likes and dislikes, opinions, etc. And, of course, :) where we differ.

So today is all about me and my Dad. I think it is important to be able to be aware of what parts of me came from where. It helps me give gratitude where it is due. It also helps me understand me and my roots better. And I like that. I was always one for my grandmas’ stories. I made family trees and stockpiled information about my grandfathers and my great-grandparents. Relished the memories my parents regale/d us with about when they were growing up. I study people. I study behavior and patterns and love to ponder such things as how birth order effects our personalities, and the like. It’s a hobby.

Today, I will share what I know about me and my Dad. So I can thank him for all he has given me. So I can be grateful on his birthday that he was born. To be able to give to me all these unique qualities that help define me. Without my Dad, who would I be?

Because of my Dad, I could pursue my dreams. Opportunity, encouragement. The ability to dream. I do not take that for granted. Not everyone knows how to dream, or is encouraged to do so. Yet my Dad is always growing. He never stays content with what he knows now. (Even though he has always been the man who knows the most trivia and, although he would never agree to play Trivial Pursuit, would stay in the room and answer all the questions correctly anyway….) He is always going out to learn, picking up new books to read that most of us would never even glance at (the books about real people and real accomplishments and real history – not the fake stuff most of us would prefer to bury our noses in). After his retirement he went to college to take classes.

He taught me that formal education is important, but certainly not the only way to become intelligent.

He taught me that first and foremost, live your life. Take care of your responsibilities, but don’t let them take over. Have fun. Take a day off, just because. Smile and laugh – a lot. Surround yourself with people who love you, for then you are really rich in life. Always be generous to others, even strangers. There is always something to give.

My Dad is not one to express himself in a lengthy manner, but when he gets up to speak, you listen. When we were kids, we would sit on and around him while he told us bedtime stories. For a man of few words, he sure could weave a wonderful bedtime story for his children. Anything for his children.

And for his wife. He is a wonderful role model of husband-hood. Of what it means to be a devoted, loving husband. My parents lead independent lives totally in sync with each other. That may sound weird, but it is wonderful. They can each be their own person, follow their own interests, and be their authentic selves, while in total respect of each other, and working together as a team with a synchronization that comes with time and love.

Love. Lots of love. Love of nature, mystery, adventure. My Dad would call me outside when he was gardening and I would come out knowing I would find some treasure like a green inchworm crawling its way along the Maple tree’s branch. Or see a sapling growing out of the bark of a tree. Or a squirrel munching an acorn from our Oak. Appreciation for nature, while it may be in my nature to be that way, also came in through my pores. These outdoor explorations, our Friday night walks under the canopies the trees created that crossed over the road, the comments of appreciation for the Fall foliage while driving down the Palisade’s Parkway. These all fueled my love for nature.

There is so much more.

Suffice it to say I see so much of my Dad in me. And my kids. And I love that, cuz I love my Dad.

You have been and continue to be a great role model, Dad. Righteous and kind and wonderful and generous and fun to be around and great with kids and in a word, “love”.

Thank you for all you taught and continue to teach me.

Have a very happy birthday. And a wonderful year.



PS It is superfluous to even say it, but I will anyway. My Mom gave me many wonderful qualities, and as a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter, I have learned so much of what I know from her. She gets random thank you calls from me on random occasions, when I realize how much the education she gave me and the qualities she passed on to me help me get through life as I know it. But that will be for another day. Thank you, Mom. xox


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