Tag Archives: Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Okay, I lied.

It seems like I do have something important to say today.

I’m just stopping by for a quick shout out to my dad, my namesake and the big dude who taught me everything he knows — but not everything I know — about how to be a dad. Sometimes he did it by setting an example, and sometimes he did it by showing me what not to do.

Either way, I learned more from that man than I could have from a library full of books.

He taught me that if it was important to his son that he coach in sports, then he took the time off his job to be there for his son and coach whatever sport was in season. Dad coached me in tackle football, baseball, basketball, just about everything I ever wanted to play. When I made the school track team in shot put and discus and the mile relay, it was my dad who took me aside and showed me how to do it all.

He taught me that you didn’t have to go along with the herd, even if you wanted to achieve the same goal as it did. He’s a doctor, but he didn’t undergraduate major in anything science-y. He majored in English because he enjoyed it.

He’s also the man who showed me the value and the warmth of a real Hawaiian shirt with the wooden buttons. My wife, known to me as She Who Must Not Be Allowed Near My Closet With Anything Remotely Sharp, might not like them, but I love my Hawaiian shirt collection.

He’s also the man who brought home the first science fiction/fantasy book I remember reading. It was the middle book in a trilogy, but I was hooked for life. He set me on a path toward some exceedingly strange places, that I’m so very glad I found. He nurtured my love of reading and words and creating with them and I can’t thank him enough.

He’s also the man who helped shape my sense of humor. So, yeah, he’s the one you can blame.

Thanks, Dad, for being such a great mentor, teacher, coach and cheerleader all rolled up into one dad-sized package that kept pushing, prodding and questioning, all the while letting me know I was loved no matter what I did, as long as what I did made me happy.

Happy birthday!

Before I go, though, answer me one question: Who’s on first.

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

by Richard

Today (well, today as I write this, but yesterday as you read this) is a rather huge day. Richard E. Jones turns 70 on this day. Wait, you’re saying, but you don’t look a day over 30. (Since I’m guessing what you’re saying, I’m also guessing you think I’m devilishly handsome and very young looking.) That’s true. But, the deal is, my name isn’t original.

I’m the fourth in a line of Richard E. Joneses. It’s my dad, known to most folks as Dickey, who’s reached the big 7-0. Really, I can’t believe it. The man is amazing.

He’s still working, still traveling, still using his “vast storehouse of general knowledge” (and his vast storehouse of specific experience and expertise) to educate others from Florida to Texas to California and country after country over the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. When I was growing up, 70 was old, one foot in the grave and one foot on a bag’s worth of loose marbles. Every year, every day, my dad helps to put the lie to that myth.

He’s a lucky man, really. He’s got a wife who loves him, children who not only still call him on their own initiative, but actually look forward to talking to him, friends and colleagues who like and respect him, a job he loves, and a place he loves even more. I feel like a public relations shill here, saying something he paid me to say, but it’s all true. The man is smart as all get out, the only person I know who can beat me at general-knowledge trivia (though I’m waiting for dementia to really kick in and then I’m going to challenge him to a game of Trivial Pursuit), and more kind and generous than we deserve.

Basically he’s who I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve already patterned a lot of my life after him, whether he or I knew it or not. Despite the fact that he was a busy doctor building up his practice and reputation, my dad was either at most of my sports games or coaching me at those same sports. I think we know where I stand on the subject of coaching the young dudes. He always made sure that he did what was right, no matter if someone was watching. He not only encouraged me to hold contrary opinions to his, but he helped me sharpen my debating skills while learning to defend my point of view.

Arguing as a family sport. Who knew?

Not to say that he was a perfect dad when I was growing up. Oh, no. I can’t tell you the number of stories I’ve got locked inside my brain, emotional scars too horrible to bring to the light of day, from him letting his freak flag fly when I was a young dude. (What can I say? He was a hippie and proud of it.)

I’ll not go into it now, but, oh, when he’s enfeebled and brain-ially infirm, oh, the stories I’m going to tell.

But that day’s not here now. Or yet. Right now, he’s still a smiling, vibrant patriarch, who loves nothing more than a good sunset, a good meal of Thai food, a good bottle of wine, some good conversation and a nice episode of Jeopardy. Well, what did you expect? He is 70, after all.

Happy birthday, Dad!

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Clean Clothes

Before we begin, a quick message. Happy birthday, Dad! And now back to our regularly scheduled program. Sundays used to be a very busy time for me. That was the day that I did all the laundry. That is, all the laundry for five people. It was not fun. It was, however, efficient. I had a system that worked for me. The only problem was that I basically had to be at home for most of Sunday. One day, though, I had a flashback to my own childhood.

My mom and dad were believers in what might be termed the benign neglect school of childrearing. Once I got near middle school, they wanted me to wear clean clothes, but if I didn’t? Well, that was my problem. They figured when friends would start complaining about the stink or the stained clothes I’d insist on wearing, well, either I’d start doing laundry more often or I’d do without friends. Either way I’d learn a valuable lesson. Have I mentioned how much I hated learning valuable lessons? The answer is. . . A lot.

Still, I did learn that lesson and started doing my own laundry. Of course, at first I ended up with a lot of pink shirts and underwear so I had to learn that you need to separate the lights from the darks. Either that or don’t buy any new red clothes and then just dump the rest of the stuff in all together. Guess which one I chose?

So it was with some trepidation that I began forcing allowing my little dudes to do their own laundry. It was a bit rough at first in that I had to take them by the hands to help sort out the darks and lights. Who knew there would be such trouble deciding that white socks shouldn’t be washed with black shirts? Eventually they learned the two-pile strategy and then I had to teach them where the detergent goes and, no, it’s not in the same place that’s marked fabric softener. And, no, you don’t have to fill every niche to the very top.

I learned another valuable lesson when I realized that they were folding up and putting away clothes that hadn’t finished drying yet. I guess they figured that if the buzzer went off, they didn’t have to worry about it anymore. If the clothes were still a little wet, no big deal. Yeah, until they started showing up with mold growing on their jeans. And, no, again, I’m not kidding in the least.

But now, finally, finally, they seem to be getting the hang of it. And to think it only took a couple of years of yelling, screaming and prodding. If only I’d started this earlier, I might have had more Sundays free for the important things. Like naps.

— Richard

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