Last night we gave our dad a surprise eightieth birthday party. He was so shocked that he just stood for a couple of moments to take it all in. I think there might have been a tear or two in his eyes.
People came from all over. My dad’s best man in his wedding fifty-six years ago came with his wife from West Virginia. Another couple, relatives of Mom’s, also came from West Virginia. People came from other parts of Kentucky and Indiana. Many were local.
My daughter, Sarah, designed a beautiful invitation with a picture of Dad standing by his “rat rod” truck. She wrote about how this vintage 1934 model (my dad) is a real classic. We did a vintage car theme; my dad is a street rodder. We played fifties music from the time of his teens. My sister’s son-in-law, a chef, prepared a wonderful spread of food, and my sister made a cake with a picture of the invitation. We had old metal car signs and lots of balloons, a vintage truck and candles. There was a video of Dad’s life and pictures displayed on tables and clipped to a folding trellis behind the cake table.
One of the requests we made of our guests is that they write a memory card for Dad; we requested them from everyone, including those who were not able to attend. I attempted to write a couple of memories, and knew I could not put on one card what I wanted say.
So here are some of my memories of dad. Daddy, this is for you!
Going to sleep at night to the sound of my dad working in the garage on a car or boat.
The wooden playhouse he made for us; we played in the shavings inside the playhouse as he was building it.
Many basset hounds. Dad has always had a dog in his life until recently.
My Dad always whistling as he came in from work. That was the sign that dinner was ready.
Sledding with my dad.
Learning how to build a small motor for a science project with Dad.
Always thinking my dad was the handsomest man I knew.
Eating popcorn and watching TV together.
Being his co-pilot when he went to Green River to test his boat. He was a drag racer and needed to get from zero to the fastest he could in a quarter of a mile. My face would be drawn back and tears would be coming sideways out of my eyes, but I loved it.
Traveling everywhere. Our favorite trips were out west. Dad and I would sit in the front of the truck (we had a truck camper) and estimate how far away the next mountain in view was.
Sunday drives and eating Kingfish or White Castle.
Sitting between my boyfriend and me on the couch with a bowl of popcorn; flashing the porch light off and on if we pulled in and sat in the car too long.
Walking me down the aisle at my wedding.
Having lots of bonfires and picnics in the field after my parents left their subdivision and moved out onto twelve acres with a two-acre lake. Walking around the lake was a part of any gathering.
Being a great grandfather to my girls and to all the nieces and nephews.
Camping at the lake. My dad was always doing something crazy there, often with his friend, Dickie (who was at the party last night). He got his basset hound, a folding camp stool, and a round saucer and managed to pull up behind the boat, sitting on the camp stool with the basset between his legs, ears flapping away. Another time, he went through the campground and gathered up twelve skiers who were willing to be pulled up behind Super Squirt (his jet boat) all at the same time. Dad and Dickie tried to ski barefoot.We had great talks around the campfire, while watching the stars.
Sharing wisdom with me. The older I get, the more I seem to need it.
Dad was always doing, doing, doing. Until recently, I don’t remember him ever resting much.
My best memory of my dad is that I always felt loved and secure growing up. I knew my dad worked hard, and that he would always take care of us. Now that I am an adult, I believe his is still my biggest fan, always encouraging me and cheering me on.
This is a partial list. I could write so much more, and I know that thoughts will continue to come to my mind after I post this.
Happy eightieth birthday, Dad. I am your biggest fan! I love you!