Happy Birthday Dad

Tuesday is my Dad's 80th birthday. On the one hand, given that I have dear Sister friends who are in their 90s (and in some weird 21st century religious life way I consider them my peers of sorts), 80 is not very old in my world. On the other hand, this is my Dad we are talking about and eight decades is certainly a milestone to be celebrated! Which, weather permitting, we plan to do tomorrow night, his actual birthday, by taking him out to a fancy Italian restaurant for a yummy birthday meal. My oldest brother and oldest nephew (his son) are in town for the festivities, which is a very nice addition. So tomorrow night our birthday dinner party will be six adults (Dad, sister, brother-in-law, brother, adult nephew, me) and one little guy (my youngest nephew).

To celebrate I made a short video with images from my Dad's eight decades. I showed the video to Dad the other day and he loved it, even if his entire life literally flashed before his eyes in less than two minutes!

And what a ride it's been! Growing up on the farm, moving to DC to go to law school, meeting my mom, getting involved in local politics and then running a national organization, five children, seven grandchildren, and lots and lots of travels. He's even got a wikipedia page.

Truth be told, I have a bit of a complicated relationship with my Dad. When I was growing up, he was busy travelling, giving speeches, passing legislation, and generally doing important stuff. I was proud of him, but he was gone a great deal of the time. Father/daughter bonding usually involved going on a business trip with him to this convention or that meeting, which is how I've been to most of the places where I have been. As a teenager/young adult I also developed the (stereo)typical strained relationship with my Dad.  Then, my mom was diagnosed with cancer 14 years ago and everything shifted. Even though I lived thousands of miles away from home, I began to spend more and more time with Mom and Dad. After Mom passed away, my Dad had his own health challenges, and so I began to spend more and more time just with him, something that hadn't really happened since I tagged along on business trips as a kid.  Dad's also a mellower person these days, adjusting to getting older and being less busy. This has shifted our relationship as well in a good if weird way.

It's also meant that instead of getting to know important Dad, I've gotten to know silly Dad a bit better. And that, my friends, is a very good thing! We all need a bit more goofiness in our lives.

Proof he has always been silly
A more recent silly photo!
Dad recently moved from his home of 50 years, the DC area, to Chicago to be near my sister and her family and, while I finish my studies, me. It's been extra nice to be able to a regular presence for Dad, rather than just seeing him a few weeks a year when I could make the trip to DC.  My religious community has also been great in providing me the time and resources I need to be a presence to my Dad, especially during his health challenges. All in all, it's been good to be a more active daughter these 10+ years. Hard at times, but good.

And so, in the presence of the blogopshere I say ...

Happy Birthday Dad!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your dad sounds like my dad! We kids bonded with Dad by going trucking with him all over the country. :). Happy birthday to him. Thanks for the post! God bless. *Becky Stanton*.