Sunday, August 21, 2016

To my Dad on His 100th Birthday

(Dad and I, Mid-1977)

Trying to think of some worthy things to say on my Dad's 100th birthday.  He passed away a few days before Thanksgiving in 1980, due to heart problems.  I am posting it here, as he (and my Mom) were influential in nurturing my enjoyment of the outdoors and nature.  He was pretty generous, an avid photographer, amateur historian, logical,...and he loved learning new things.

I am Thankful for these things that he taught me or influenced me towards...
  • How to drive a 4x4 (without getting myself into more trouble, something he said 4x4s were good for).
  • How to drive a manual transmission (I had a lot of help from my cousin Alice Beth Royce, in her Karman Ghia, too).
  • How to turn a Jeep and trailer around (I did it on a slope, but when I returned to the house, I stalled the engine while parking and forgot to turn off the ignition.  It sort of melted the points together.  Oops.)
  • He wasn't into hunting or fishing, but he did enjoy being outdoors in our garden, hiking, panning gold, hunting for arrowheads, picking blackberries, looking for beech trees with Cherokee carvings,...
  • He wasn't really a sports nut, which was good, as I wasn't big enough or athletic enough for baseball or football.  I am sure that saved him some frustrations.  When I gravitated to NASCAR, he took me to my first four races (1967-1970).
  • He taught me the basics of plumbing, soldering, carpentry, painting, how to use a table saw and wood lathe without destroying myself,...  How to rebuild a car's starter,...
  • He taught me the importance of firearms safety and responsibilities.
  • He made damn sure my sister and I knew how to avoid Poison Ivy.
  • He influenced my interest in photography and Dr. Gale Bishop taught me the specifics (Thanks, Doc.)
  • He (and others) taught me the importance of respecting one's elders.
  • He wouldn't let us throw trash out the windows of our cars nor in our creek, while in the garden.
  • In an odd way, he inspired my epic 1974 road trip with my college roommate.  We covered 8,800 miles in 4 weeks.  The year before, on a family vacation, while at Mesa Verde, CO, I saw stacks of Coors Beer in the camp store.  Having heard that Coors was "nectar of the gods", I asked if I could get a sixpack to "take back to my friends" (haha).  Being a nondrinker, he thought about it for 3 seconds and said "No".  As he was pretty generous, I was "not going to die on that hill", but I did start conspiring towards a western trip the following year, to get my case of Coors and go to Yellowstone (which I did).  (Where did that self confidence go?)
  • His love of reading and learning new things influenced my interest in talk radio (WRNG) when it started becoming part of the Atlanta market.  After adapting to personal styles, I think he would have enjoyed the back and forth of debate.

    Other considerations:
  • I am glad he had the confidence in me to let me leave home for grad school in El Paso.  I am sorry that he didn't live to see me finish.
  • I am sorry he didn't live to see his four grandkids,  I think he would have been a good grandpa.  That is why my grandsons and my sister's granddaughters are so precious to us.
  • While he might be horrified at some (many) aspects of modern culture, I think he would have loved researching family and military history on the internet and its facilitating communications with family members.
  • After the learning curve, he would have loved the versatility of digital photography.  

    There is so much more to say.  I miss him (and Mom) and think of them often.  [I may add more as "the spirit moves me".]

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