As a child, I always knew my dad was in charge, at the helm, on the job. Poppy was, is, a father. There are many fine qualities about my dad but here are a few of the most important:
I have always known he loves my mother.
I have always known he loves me and my sisters.
Disappointment with his immediate family members is kept private, barely expressed.
He makes the world’s best tacos, waffles, and martinis, in that order.
Poppy does not panic in times of crises, a quality for which we are especially grateful.
He wins almost every argument, usually by sheer force of logic.
His penmanship sucks.
He once told his own mother that he would not wear a certain item of clothing she had purchased for his birthday to a “dogfight” – a lesson in how not to react to a less than desirable gift ( every year after that she stuck to the Jameson’s and the National Geographic subscription.)
His mother really loved him despite his lack of tact.
My mother really loves him. They are best friends.
Slamming a door will make him yell but crashing his car won’t.
He is an excellent house guest and always hangs up his towel.
You can teach an old dog new tricks: foot massages in China.
I do not always agree with my father but I rarely, if ever, think he is wrong. He has always been my moral compass. Right and wrong, as a parent, I am learning, is sometimes a hard lesson to make stick. The Popster has raised three daughters who, with his words ever ringing in their ears, are trying their best to measure up. He has done this using a variety of methods: history lessons and cross-examinations at the dinner table, indoctrination into classical music, new television sets for historic events such as man landing on the moon, real events in a bygone age when news was not embroidered upon or outright fabricated. Poppy forced us to think. “If you can’t defend your borders,” my father once intoned, “then civil liberties are a moot point.” He was trying to explain to me, a college student, why I should not be a single issue voter. Living as I have around the globe, this is a lesson which has served me well. Although I tend to vote largely on that one single issue, but that’s another story.
In our house, Christmas did not officially begin until after my father’s birthday. Yes, we paid attention to the advent calendar but we were always the last people in the neighborhood to put up our tree. It might have been in the house, but it was not decorated, and it stayed up until Epiphany on January 6. My grandmother, while she was alive, was usually in town to help celebrate, a double-edged sword if ever there was one. (Did I mention she loved him?). My mother always prepares a special meal. This year is no exception.
I am so sorry I am not celebrating his 70TH birthday with him in person this year but I know he forgives me. That is the kind of person he is. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND A BIG BEAR HUG TO POPPY.