|My father and my first-born.|
The importance of being present at funerals.
That hard work matters.
What a good husband and father looks like.
That you owe your community more than just paying your taxes.
That I'm more beautiful than I think I am.
To respect authority, and that if I got in trouble in school I could expect trouble at home.
To carry a handkerchief, in case you have a daughter who cries.
That getting along with siblings is a skill to be learned when you're young and a joy when you are old.
That a B is okay if that's the best I can do, but really, I'm capable of A work.
That keeping your word matters.
How to castrate a pig.
That you never get over being proud of your children, and being scared for them, and wanting them to be happy.
That a person can swear a blue streak without uttering a single four-letter word.
How lucky I was to be taking piano lessons when I was young, because he would have given anything to have the PRIVILEGE of practicing when he would rather have been blah-di-blah-di-blah.
That faith, true faith, is not the same as church attendance, but that church attendance is important, too.
That my short toes aren't a disfiguring handicap.
That fourth-grade boys act out crushes in some weird ways.
That love never faileth, and the greatest of these is love.
I've written here often about my dad, about his Dust Bowl childhood and his Navy service, about how he has been a role model for how to leave the world better than you found it and how he continues to compete even though his life hasn't been without some of the cruddy cards the universe occasionally deals.
Tomorrow is Dad's 90th birthday. We'll eat cake and greet people whose lives Dad has touched over the years. We'll look at pictures from his first nine decades and talk about how he's influenced us, but there isn't nearly enough time to list all the ways my father has influenced my life, and how deeply I love him.
Just like Boy#1 watching the best way to start a fire in the fireplace, from the time I was a toddler I've been peering over his shoulder to learn the very best way to do things, the best way to live my life.
Happy birthday, Dad. I'll never stop learning from you, and loving you always.