Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy Brithday Daddy

Today would've been Daddy's 87th birthday.  

Today marks the second birthday without him. 

It's no easier to mark this day than the first birthday after his death, the first Christmas, etc.  

I hear him in the way I cough and sometimes in the way I answer the phone.  "Yellow!"  Kind of a combo of 'Yeah' and "Hello".  

When Daddy was born in 1927, there were no cell phones or computers.  There was barely landline telephone service.  Cars were still relatively new, so you either walked or rode a horse or burrow if you lived on a farm.  There were no Playstations, Xboxes, and indoor plumbing was a novelty.   People were considered old if they lived to 50, and wise if they lived to 70 and beyond.  

Immunizations for diseases such as polio, measles, chicken pox, and other viruses were unheard of.   Cancer would strike and cut down men and women in just a few short months.  There was no such thing as the space program, and the second World War, Vietnam, and Korea were yet to be thought of.  The last assassination of a Presidential figure was in 1865.  

Throughout Daddy's life, many technological and cultural changes took place.  He lived through a World War, the Vietnam and Korean skirmishes, Woodstock, Watergate, the Depression, the assassinations of JFK/RFK/MLK Jr.  Cars replaced horses, farms became commercial operations, landline telephones were in nearly every home.  Touch tone phones came into use.  Direct Dial instead of asking the operator to place a call.  Computers, video games, VCRs, color television.  The space race, the cold war, ERA.  He basically LIVED the Billy Joel song 'We Didn't Start the Fire'.  

Daddy accomplished a lot in eighty five years of living.  Besides marrying my birth mother and siring me (which some pundits out there might ask if that was really an accomplishment!); he was a full time minister for 37 years, survived cancer for over 26 years.  He wrote two religious text books for youngsters' release time education - one on the New Testament and the other on the old testament.  He wrote more for every week of the year for all those years.  He printed his own church bulletins which meant he mastered the use of mimeograph and offset printing presses.  He could change his own oil and do most of the basic maintenance on cars until it became too difficult for him to do so.  He had the patience to plant and weed gardens, to can and freeze the bounty from those gardens.  He loved animals (especially kitty cats).  He cared for people.  

My father believed that in order to lead people, he had to set the example.  He was always bathed, shaved, and in clean clothes each day.  He didn't drink, smoke, or cuss (well, he did once, when he dropped a very heavy item on his foot).  He didn't 'sleep' with another woman without benefit of marriage, nor did he cheat on his wives (my mother and step - mother).   He researched for his sermons so that the topic was accurate.  He kept good records.  He didn't cheat the government.  He prayed for the President, even when he didn't agree with the man in the Oval Office.  

He loved sports, though his eyesight made it difficult to play.  He loved baseball and was a die hard Cubs fan (card carrying, and I carry that card to this day).  He loved basketball and attended IU basketball games like a second religion.  We often spent Thursday evenings and Saturdays watching IU and 'helping' the coach.  

Several years after I'd gotten out of college, Daddy apologized to me for not being free from the needs of the pastorates to attend some of the extra curricular activities I was involved in, such as basketball.  

"Y'all would've just seen me sit on the bench," I assured him.  "You were there for the piano recitals, the plays, and the musicals in high school.  You were there for the choral recitals, and you listened to the campus radio station whenever I was on air.  That more than makes up for never watchin' me sit on the bench." 

Sometimes I didn't always live up to Daddy's expectations.   He wanted me to pursue a career in music, but I never felt that confident in my talent in that area.  Who knows?  Maybe if I had followed his wishes, my life might've taken a very different turn.  But he supported my dream to be in broadcasting.  Because he was my Daddy. 

We weren't best friends.  My father believed in discipline for bad behavior.  I don't consider myself abused because he got to the 'bottom' of the problem.  He was fair when being the disciplinarian.  He would listen to both sides, then render a decision. When I got a little too old and big for spankings, then I got grounded.  It certainly taught me not to make the same mistake. 

My father taught me to be courteous to people right at the start.  Mr. Mrs. Miss so and so were standard forms of address for me to use.  It's still my habit today.  I give up my seat to older people on the bus (the few times I take the bus) and hold the door open for people of both sexes if they happen to be following me into an establishment.  

There's not a day that passes that I don't think of him and miss him.  While he was still healthy enough to do so, he would write every week.  When he wasn't up to writing, he called each night to say 'hello' and make sure things were going well.  He was my rock when my birth mother's chronic mental illness reared its ugly head, even though he was legally out of the situation. 

Once, after I lost the first cat that owned me when I moved out of the house, Daddy incurred the wrath of his church members by printing a story about Jesus' losing his own beloved pet, a dog named Tobias, in order to help me cope with the loss.  

The last picture I have of Daddy before his final illness was taken on his 85th birthday in 2012.  He had been admitted there for rehab after another bout of gastrointestinal distress and weakness.  Just a few weeks later, Daddy fell extremely ill and was transferred here to the Specialty Hospital in Indy where he remained until he died. 

I know he's in a better place.  He feels no pain, he's with God in Heaven, and is havin' a great time reuniting with his college and pastoral friends who went before him (Wallace Chappel and Pete Chattin).  

But what I wouldn't give today to be able to call him and say 'Happy Birthday Daddy!' and hear him say thank you for his card.  I'd give anything to get one more hug and kiss from him.   Maybe in the next life, but on this plane of existence, there is a big hole in my heart.  

So Happy Birthday, Daddy.  I love and miss you.