With a little self-indulgence, I write a salute to Dad, who would be 103 today, Oct. 16, 2015, had he lived past age 82.
With a somewhat unusual childhood of living in multiple states, with divorced parents at age 8, and taking a Greyhound bus each summer from Mobile, Alabama to visit Dad in New Orleans, it seemed like bliss to be able to spend time with 'liberal and lenient' dad.
Summers were filled with the record player in the small apartment playing Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee", while dad worked nights as a maitre'd in the famed French Quarter.
Home at 2 or 3 a.m., he barely had 5 hours sleep when all of us kids pounced on him to take us to Ponchartrain Beach Boardwalk for fun in the sun and to ride every ride without regard to cost or time. And he did it. Without complaint.
Memories include: learning how to parallel park in Audubon Park over and over again until I got it right, with dad talking me through it; and dad patiently holding me while I learned how to 'float' and to swim in the ocean; getting a quarter for doing all the laundry and dad saying 'I could spend it all at the candy store if I wanted.' But one of the most memorable: one freezing nite when dad took me to the Mardi Gras fountain so he could show me its beauty, and he looked over and saw I was shivering, took off his shirt, and covered me in it to make me warm,while he stood bare chested and cold. I think about that now, how many parents try to lavish rich gifts on their kids for some sort of return recognition, yet one simple move of one simple shirt did the trick for me.
I felt loved beyond love.
Thanks Dad, for making my childhood great, and for being a really cool dad who kept a vigilant eye, but not too strict of a stance. For always being there to talk to, even when we all grew up.
For being mellow, unless it involved a principle, in which he would then 'go the distance' to make a point. Thanks for giving us choices: when we asked for your help on decisions, you would always scratch the side of your nose and tilt your head in thought(like a seasoned philosopher) and tell us 'there are two sides to every coin, multiple sides to many decisions. You always have choices.'
What great advice.
Far from perfect, as we all are, yet so close to faultless. Smart, caring, compassionate, and most of all, one of the best dads anyone could ask for. I only wished I had had more time together, but don't we all?
What was the biggest lesson dad taught me? Compassion. And like Oscar Wilde put it: " be yourself, everyone else is taken." Dad always wanted us to be ourselves, know ourselves, act ourselves.
Thanks Dad. Happy 103rd. Wherever you may be.....may your spirit live on!!
(Here's to all the cool Dad's and Mom's who make every day like Fathers Day and like Mothers Day. Thanks for all the parents who lead the way!!)