A Tribute to My Dad

I have a terrific Dad! He turns 75 tomorrow, and I have spent a lot of time reminiscing this week. My dad is a man of wide interests and many gifts. And, as clearly seen below, he’s a man of style!

Dad is a widely known and accomplished organist and musician. I love to hear him play and sing! When I was a little child, I loved to go with Dad to the church in the evening for him to practice the organ. In the low light of the sanctuary, Dad played beautiful old hymns as I crawled under the pews and explored every square inch of that sanctuary.

One of my favorite hymns is “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners,” which Dad often played when we slipped into different churches to try out the organs! (That was long ago, before locked doors and security systems!)

Dad is a terrific gardener and has always maintained a beautifully landscaped yard. As we children were growing up, our summer table was loaded with fresh garden vegetables.

Supper might consist of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, corn on the cob, asparagus and one of my favorites, prepared by Dad: freshly picked lettuce, layered and cut into bite-sized pieces, and sprinkled with vinegar and sugar. Yum!

Dad has an avid interest in history, including church history and local history. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed his colorful narration on last year’s Free Will Baptist tour of Newburyport and George Whitefield’s church (that’s the church in the organ picture above). Dad has a way of bringing history to life. He also has a lot of interest in architecture, and often points out buildings and points of interest when we’re together.

Because Dad has a significant knowledge of local flora, he also points out interesting bushes, trees and plants – once, years ago, when my husband and I were traipsing through the woods with my dad, he began to quiz Mike. He grabbed a leafy twig and asked, “What’s this?” “Umm…not sure, but I think it’s a tree,” Mike responded. I’m sure it is a bit of a disappointment that we have not followed in his footsteps in some areas of knowledge – but the funniest thing is that it didn’t deter him from asking Mike to identify the next tree, and the next!

One thing that Dad did pass on to me is a great curiosity and sense of adventure. Hmm…a siren; I wonder what’s going on? Shall we follow that fire truck? Oooh, a storm is coming – let’s open all the windows and enjoy it! Once, when a strong thunderstorm approached, my brother ran around shutting all the sliding glass doors (we lived in a unique house with 7 sets of sliding glass doors and two windows), and my dad followed behind him, opening the doors wide. Eventually they met at the same door, and after several seconds of arguing and pulling on the door, my dad won out, and just as he got the door opened all the way, there was a big flash and clap of thunder and my brother hit the floor, prostrate. I laugh about that just as hard now as I did then!

I remember another time that we all (except my dad) ran around the house closing and locking all the doors because a fugitive had escaped a vehicle on the highway behind our house – Dad grabbed a flashlight and said he was going to head out and take a look for himself. Thankfully, he didn’t run into the man!

A few months ago, I called my dad while he was at home with a painful injury to his knee. I asked him if he had heard about the hostage situation downtown, where a man with a bomb strapped to his chest had entered Hilary Clinton’s campaign office and taken hostages. There were snipers on the roofs of many of the buildings, and the whole downtown was crawling with national media. Dad’s immediate response was, “Man, and I’m stuck here at home!”

Dad has strong opinions on many topics, including What Foods Everyone Should Like. Fortunately for me, I’m not a picky eater, and have no problem ingesting sardines, blueberries, beet greens, rat trap cheese or even CHOKECHERRIES when deliberately fed them by my FATHER.

Dad was very strict about TV. If he caught us watching “The Love Boat” he’d say, “You shouldn’t be watching that trash; turn that thing off.” One of us would ever so slowly act like we were getting up – we knew that if given a few moments there was hope that he might get caught up in the story line which would buy us a little more time. So we’d sit very still, glancing toward him now and then, until a questionable scene would snap him out of it, and he’d tell us to turn it off, and one of us would ever so slowly…well, you get it – we’d try this trick again and again, but it would rarely work more than twice in a row. So I don't think I've seen a whole episode of “The Love Boat,” not that I missed much! My husband remembers that we would be watching a show or movie, and my dad would come into the room and change the channel to German soccer!

I have always loved hearing my mom and dad laughing together! I remember vividly one evening when I was a teenager, and in bed, that they were laughing in the other room, and they laughed harder and harder, and soon I was guffawing right along with them in my bedroom; I found out later that they were watching Danny Kaye on TV. They still laugh together, more now than before, and it still gives me pleasure.

Dad is thrilled with his three grandchildren and still has a wonderful sense of fun. When we were kids, he was the best swing-pusher (for those of us with no fear). And at our house we didn’t play those boring games like baseball or tag; we did the fun stuff like Croquet and Scrabble and “Let’s Search the Woods for Big Rocks,” a personal favorite, since it usually included a ride on the back of the motorcycle.

My dad has always been a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. He serves the Lord faithfully in his church, he reaches out to those in need around him, and he exemplifies a godly man. Thank you, Dad, for your legacy of faith, for your love, and for a bounty of wonderful memories, with many more to come! I love you, Daddy - happy 75th!


modemom said...

And how blessed I am to be the wife of this wonderful man (for 45 years) and the mother of the writer of this wonderful tribute to her dad. Tears flowed while reading her words and looking at some of my favorite photos. Thank you, sweet daughter, for being such a kind, loving woman, among many other things. Keep up the writing!

Mel L. said...

Melanie, what a wonderful tribute to your Dad! We have known each other for many many years- since we were graduate students together at Bob Jones University starting in 1960. Our years singing in a quartet together bring many happy memories! Our friendship has spanned almost half a century.

Thanks again for the woderful tribute!!