Dad will turn 85 on February 9.
A year ago, I found a birthday card that read, Still rockin’ and rollin’ at 85! so I bought it and told Dad he better stick around to get it. I knew he would since I had spent my money on it.
It’s almost been a year since I started this blog and I’ll be giving him the card along with a manuscript of our Sundays with Dad stories.
Not long after Mom died in 2011, someone told me that once one spouse dies, the other usually follows within the next six months and I should prepare myself. I left that conversation in tears. Those early months were hard on him of course—on all of us—and we did fear losing him as well. But that usually didn’t apply to him.
In some ways, I think these stories have helped keep him going strong. When he came down with pneumonia a couple months ago he said, “Well, if the Lord wants to take me, I’m ready to go but I told Him I sure would like to stay around for a while because I have more stories to tell!”
Sharing his life and recording it has been great for us both. It hasn’t always been easy…..he really does remember every detail of every story and I have to keep moving him along. It takes time to get it down on paper and if I get something wrong I’m sure to get a call, “I like your story Deb….I just have a couple notes.”
After several months, we both started to wear out during our Sunday lunches and my husband began eating fast and disappearing to the third floor—well out of earshot. We eventually found a more natural rhythm and we worked when we could fit it in around his routines and my job. I have tried to stick to posting at least one story a week.
I think about how a person can even begin to pay back parents who have always done their best for their kids. Sharing the experiences of their lives and the wisdom gained is one way of honoring them and their love.
I didn’t go into this with any noble ambition—only that I didn’t want to lose my parents and their stories too. It has ended up being fulfilling for both Dad and me. He did let me know that by the time he does die he doesn’t expect to have a single secret left. Like the time we discovered we had both bought a brand of toilet paper that wouldn’t tear right. “Debbie,” he said. “Here’s what I do. You get a hold of the end of it and pull slightly. Look here, see the perforations?”
“Yeah, Dad. I see them.”
“You count up two squares and pull carefully, like this. (Rip.) Look at that.”
Amazing. “You only use two squares of toilet paper….?”
“That’s funny, Dad. Do you mind if I write that down….?”
So Dad, I can tell you the first 40 years of your life are on paper—there’s so much that I and others never knew about you and Mom or had forgotten and will benefit from. Thanks for that.
Happy Birthday and welcome to your 86th year! Now we only have 45 years left to cover….