Pop’s 74th Birthday

My dad’s 74th birthday is today!  I love my dad.  He’s not perfect, but none of us are, and he taught me the important things in life about character and what it is to be a good human being.  Pop is a very loving man, although he’s also a curmudgeon due to being wronged so many times in his life.  I know he believes in God, and he hates organized religion.  He doesn’t drink alcohol – I’m not sure he even can.  I’m finding that, as I age, I’ve inherited many of his genes.  That’s both good and bad.  As far as physical conditions go, my dad and I both know what arthritis is, and what pain is for no good reason.  Dad’s allergic to penicillin and Mom’s allergic to sulfa drugs.  I got Mom’s genes for the sulfa drug allergy.  Dad was diagnosed with arthritis at age 36.  I was diagnosed at age 30.  Arthritis is no joke!  My dad and I have similar personalities and temperaments, which can be a great conversation or a match in gasoline when we’re not agreeing on something.  He never wants his picture taken, and I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want mine taken, either.  I’m proud of my dad for all he’s done in is life.  He was a long-haul semi driver for over 45 years.  It’s taken its toll on his body.  He was a hard-working man.  He now has two spinal stenoses, one in his cervical spine and one in his lumbar spine, both of which could paralyze him if he moves just wrong.  He’s a tough man.  He’s only got one kidney and his cardiovascular system is a wreck.  Hopefully I’m not headed for that, but what will be will be, I guess.  Pop has always let us kids know, despite his temper, that he loves us.  I think honesty and love are the most important things Pop showed us growing up besides the hard work that he put in and the thoughts he always had to bring us something from his travels almost every time he came home.  Dad brought home the neatest stuff!  In these last few years, I found out that he wanted to bring us more, but erred on the side of caution as far as tarantulas and armadillos went.  I would’ve loved both!  Model-building, fly-tying, hunting, fishing, science of all types, you name it, and Dad taught me what he could about it all.  Dad got me a wooden doll house that I still have to finish.  When I was little, I was convinced that my dad knew everything and he was the smartest man in the world – a true genius – when it came to knowing about things!  I’m still convinced that he knows a lot.  He passed on his love of books to me.  We carved the stocks of our black powder pistols and made our own from kits, flew kites together, played bumper pool in the garage, and worked on rebuilding engines.  Archery was fun with Dad.  Pop managed to make it to my high school graduation, despite being sick as a dog that day.  I didn’t see him there, but my mom said that he came and stood down below to hear my Valedictorian address.  My dad never made it to any of my other graduations.  He has really bad anxiety and the anticipation of the event makes him physically ill.  I forgive him for that – I know what it’s like.  Dad always encouraged me in whatever I was trying to do, whether it was artwork or sports or music or anything else that required skill and hard work.  I hope Pop knows how much I love and respect him.  My high school years were rough, but we got through it.  Things are good now.  So, Happy 74th Birthday, Pop, and here’s to many more!  I love you, and thanks for raising me to believe that there’s nothing I can’t do!

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