Today is my dad's eighty-third birthday. Just imagine the changes in the world he has witnessed over those eighty-three years! The Roaring Twenties came to a screeching halt with the Crash of '29. In a family of two parents and eleven children, Dad being number eight, those first years of his life could not have been easy...but were any of them? I remember my grandmother telling me that she always worried that my dad didn't get enough of her attention. She said he never complained, but that was what added to the worry. Others were not afraid to make their wants and desires known, loud and clear. Dad was content to follow along with the others and make himself known by being just like them.
Everyone helped on their farm. Many times I've heard the stories of the work that they all did to make a family that large work. The chores in the cold and walking to school across the fields, making certain that anyone who might need something in the little church across the road was taken care of and digging the graves for the funerals at the cemetary. It took all of them to make it all happen.
But there was fun too. The stories about the escapades he and his brother got into keep us laughing around the dining room table, even today. How fortunate he was to have someone so close in age and kinship! How necessary in a group so large!
What did this beginning mean for the man I call dad? It meant he learned the value of your labors...you earn what you get...nothing is handed to you. It meant he learned that we are here to serve others, not to be served. It meant he learned that family is first, last and middle, nothing comes before it. Well, I'm wrong. It meant that he learned that only God comes before family, and if God is first the rest will all work out. And he taught his children those values.
I guess you can see that I think my dad's just about the best guy in the whole world! I'm so fortunate! You see, over my lifetime I've seen so many friends and acquaintances that didn't have a dad to set the standard, to show them the ropes, to love them. So many fathers walk away from their responsibilities because they just can't be bothered. I work with young people and families. I see it every day. And every day it makes me so grateful for my dad! Yes, he is stubborn (thanks for passing that on) and at eighty-three opinionated (he's earned that right) but, as for me, when I grow up, I want to be just like my dad!
Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.