My 87 year old dad called me this morning. He wanted to chat. Just catch up. We hadn't chatted in about 24 hours and he had stuff to talk about. He had read my 2 most recent blogs and he wanted to talk about them and other things. We talked for about 20 minutes. He asked good questions, pondered what I said, offered his opinion and a bit of advice. And although my day isn't over and its been pretty good so far, I can guarantee those were the best 20 minutes of my day.
It was after that conversation that I started thinking about my dad in days gone by. There was a common refrain around my house when I was a teenager that came from my dad. He would sigh. We would wait for it. Then here came the refrain: "It's tough being the dad."
Maybe I needed the car or some cash. Maybe my brother backed the car into a lamppost and knocked it over. Maybe he would be the punchline of a joke we all thought was hilarious. Honestly, it could be a whole host of things. Usually it was anything that caused Dad to be backed into a proverbial corner. A lot of times it was when my dad was the very last person to find out about something. Then, once the facts of whatever the issue or problem were uncovered and sorted out to the best of his ability, my dad would look at my brother, mother and I and say it again (with appropriate sigh), "Its tough being the dad."
He wasn't mad. My dad rarely got mad at Andy and me (well, he was kind of mad over the knocked over lamp post incident). I think he just wanted us to know he was a real person who had real feelings - not an ATM machine (although there weren't any ATM machines yet) or a valet who simply doled out the car keys to us at will.
Yep, Old Bob Jones is a great dad. I think every other man in their 80's is named "Bob". My father-in-law is Bob and my sister-in-law's dad was Bob, my daughter-in-law's dad is Bob (although he is not in his 80's). When my son, Andrew, was a little boy, he thought that once you became a Grandpa your name was automatically changed to "Bob". Really. But I digress.
There are so many things about my dad that I think are worthy of comment. When I was a kid we ALWAYS had breakfast together as a whole family. The four of us sitting around the table just like we would 11 hours later for dinner. OJ, Coco Puffs or Cheerios and toast one day; grape juice, a "penny" egg* and toast the next (*A hardboiled egg put through an egg slicer, then laid out like golden coins on my plate). After we were finished eating we would sit while my dad read from the Bible and the little 5 minute devotional, Our Daily Bread. We never left the table without it.
On Saturday mornings my dad made raisin pancakes for all of us before he left to go golfing with his buddies.
On Saturday afternoons (after golf) he would make sourdough bread by hand using the yeast starter we had growing in our refrigerator. My mom would use that bread to make our lunches every day at school. I LONGED for white Wonder bread like all my girlfriends. I was an idiot. And how many of you had dads who made bread, by hand, every week?
My dad would challenge my brother to running races and there they would go across the yard. I don't remember the first time Andy actually beat my dad but I bet it was high school or later. My dad was fast.
My dad has a crazy sense of humor and likes to wear silly hats whenever it's called for. He is such a good sport.
When I was a senior in high school I wasn't asked to the Prom. That night, when all my friends were dressing up, receiving nervous boys at the door with corsages and heading out to what I knew absolutely would be the best night of their lives, my dad came to me and invited me to go on a "date"with him. He took me to Bob's Big Boy for dinner and then we went to see the Vaudeville Show at the Birdcage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm. In those days, Knott's wasn't enclosed and you could wander around to your heart's content. The tickets to the theater were probably all of 50 cents. It was an unforgettable night for me: much better than any prom (and less expensive too).
Dad has walked through my many trials and triumphs with me. He adores all his grandchildren (6!) and his great-grandchildren (4!). He is passionately interested in the lives of my boys and asks about each one in great detail. When I have an seemingly insurmountable problem or challenge, he lets me blather on about it forever then he will respond. Sometimes with sage advice or practical solutions, sometimes with just a listening ear but always with prayer. I know my dad and my mom have prayed for me and my family every single day of my life.
My dad and mom moved to Corona in the spring of 2010 after living outside of California for over 30 years. They are just five miles down the road, which I love. My dad's health has been a terrible challenge for him and my mom these past 2 years. Too many trips to the hospital. Too many sleepless nights due to a chronic and mysterious cough. He's a trooper and a feisty old bird but every once in a while he looks at me and says, "Getting old stinks" Yes, it does.
Like many, many millions before me, I wish, back when I was teenager,I had had the perspective I have now about the incredible value my dad brings to my life .