September 16, 1944. This is the day that the greatest man on Earth was born. Today he is 63. But he is eternally 35 to me. This is when I remember him best. I was a young child, the world was perfect, and life was good.
He was a handsome man; a kind man; intelligent. Looking back, he is the bar to which I hold all men. I have many happy memories. He was the original Prince Charming in my life.
He brought to me a love of music -- all kinds. We'd listen to Jim Croce or Stevie Wonder, Dr Hook and the Eagles. He was the first man with whom I danced. To me he was soooo tall. He would stand me up on a dining room chair, and dance with me. I was the Princess of the house with him.
He brought to me the wonder of learning. He'd sit with me when I was four, and let me read to him. I remember he and my mother reading to each other. We watched National Geographic, Jacques Cousteau, and Nova. Of course, we watched Benny Hill, Wonder Woman, and The Bionic Man to. We were not given answers. We were asked questions, taught where to find the answers and expected to be able to find our way.
Some of my favorite times were late at night. He worked second shift then, and I would wake up in the middle of the night, knowing he'd be home soon. I'd sit at the top of the stairs and wait. He'd come in, talk to my mom, and they'd always cook something or bake cookies. Then he'd come to the foot of the stairs and find me and tell me to come down. We'd sit and watch scary movies (the GOOD kind - the classic black & white Dracula, Frankenstein, The Thing, The Mummy, The Werewolf) and it was great! That was back when they could make movies good without making them gory.
We did a lot of fun things together. We'd do puzzles, paint, go down to the old abandoned railroad tracks and target shoot. I'd sit for hours watching him reload shells for his rifles and handguns. We'd walk along the tracks and pick black raspberries to take to grandma's so she could make the bestest black raspberry pie in the world.
He worked in R&D for a company. He was always making something, better. Out of a metal barrel and steel posts, he made a barbecue grill (for charcoal) and powder coated it. We grilled out all the time. Chicken, fish, steaks, pork chops, burgers and dogs. That grill lasted for 15 years. I can't buy one that cooks as well today.
He was a quiet man. He never yelled. He didn't need to yell. When he told us to do or not do something, it was understood. I remember only a handful of spankings. We were spoiled. When we were spanked, it was because our dumb ass did something really frickin' stupid. He never spanked in anger. He always waited and sent us to our room for about 15-20 minutes. The waiting was almost as bad as the spanking. His hands were 3 feet long. Ok, maybe not that long, but it sure seemed like it. He'd always tell us, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you." I understand it now. His moments with us were filled with kindness and laughter, teasing and tickles. Kisses at bedtime and talks about our days.
He didn't have regular sleep habits. He'd stay up for awhile, then sleep for awhile. But he was always on time and at work every day. I kid you not, the man has missed 3 days of work in 36 years due to being ill. That's where I get my work ethic, I'm sure.
He taught respect, gave respect, and expected respect. He was knowledgeable on many different subjects, but man of few words. He is very much a realist, and doesn't mince words. If he says it, he means it. If he doesn't mean it, he won't say it. He doesn't believe in wasting time and energy on things going nowhere.
He is a beautiful man. He is my stepfather, but from the time I was only months old, he was Daddy. In a world where mixed families and horror stories abound about children and stepparents, I have to honestly say, I was a fortunate child. No one holds a candle to him. No one ever will. He's a shrewd and very accurate judge of character. Very few made it past him. He always called them right.
I'm proud to know him. I'm honored he calls me his little Princess. I hate the thought of him aging and the inevitable. Watching the gray appear in his hair, and the shake of Parkinson's reminds me of facts which I cannot control. I was not half the parent he was, and I'm sad because he was such a great father to me. He will always be my number one man.
So today, I'll go see him; take him some chocolate cake (his favorite) and hug him because he's there.
All my love, Daddy. Happy Birthday to you... I hope you have a million more.
your little princess