Today is my dad’s birthday. He’s one of the most kind, compassionate, and loving individuals that I know. He has always known how to make me laugh. He has taught me so many things. I thought that I would immortalize some of his wise words for his birthday.
1) “Let that ballon go.” I didn’t have many Bridezilla moments, but I had a few. Whenever I would start to get worked up over the cost of catering or the stupid rules of my wedding venue, Dad would become a mime letting go a handful of helium filled balloons. He would look at the imaginary balloons with wonder and then say, “Let that balloon go.” At the time, I wanted to let my fist go in his face but it would make me slow down and think. None of those things really mattered. Every once in a while, when my brain is about to explode because someone is driving -20 mph in the left lane, I’ll remember to let that balloon go.
2) “She’s the boss of her chips.” I was an overbearing older sister. One memorable car ride, Leah had gotten chips and I was instructing her on how to eat them. When Leah complained, my parents told her “Say to Beth ‘I’m the boss of my chips.'” And thus was born the eternal phrase that Leah used for all things from “I’m the boss of my room” to “I’m the boss of my car.” I think I learned that the world doesn’t have to listen to me the day she first used it.
3) “Welcome to social services.” Dad’s my compadre in the social services field. Whenever I would call him crying about something that happened at work, he would listen patiently and then tell me, “Welcome to social services, Beth.” Serving people is not always hunky dory and he helps to remind me of that.
4) “Laugh at yourself.” When I was younger and I would get mad, Dad had this frustratingly annoying character that he called “Little Man.” He would walk two fingers across the table and say in a screechy voice, “Little man. Little man.” The “little man” would then try to crawl up my arm and I would slap it and he would die and then come back to life and annoy me until I died. Of course, it always made me smile, even if it was an angry smile and I couldn’t stay angry for long. My dad is really great at laughing at himself (after the fact, somtimes) and I think that is something that he has passed onto his family.
5) “It’s okay to make mistakes.” Some of my most precious moments alone with my dad were when he and I would leave early in the morning on a weekend and go camping and caving together. One of these trips resulted in us getting a trespassing citation because we were camping on some land of a friend’s who wasn’t quite aware that we were staying there. I remember that he was upset, but then he was fine. Things like that happen. As a result of this mindset, instead of getting in trouble when I got in my first wreck, I got a high five from my parents because, “Yay! I messed up!” Love it.
6) “Wherever you go, there you are.” Okay, so sometimes he says this to be funny, but I think that my dad is really great at living in the moment. He knows how to leave work at work and really be present. He certainly worries sometimes but he does it significantly less than I do. I know he loves to hike and be in nature. It’s fun to be hiking with him and hear him exclaim every few moments about how beautiful everything is. This is still something that I’m learning but I have a great example.
7) “Don’t drive safely.” After I went off to college (okay, maybe before), I was fiercely independent. Every time I would leave the house, my dad would say, “Drive safely.” Ugh, my little independent mind was like, “What am I, a baby?” So I actually started to say, “NO! I’m NOT going to drive safely. I’m going to drive recklessly. I’m going to eat a hamburger and text while I drive WITH MY FEET.” Then my dad started telling me “DON’T drive safely” and it’s become a joke. He just said it to me last week and I’m almost a FULL GROWN LADY.
8) “Listen, listen. Love, love.” Okay, this one isn’t originally his but he uses it alot and he’s really great at it. His ability to listen to people, whether his family or prisoners at his prison ministry, Dad can listen to someone without passing judgment. Watching him do this has been one of the great blessings that he has given me.
There are so many more things that I have learned from my Dad (like about the gestation period of black bears) and I know that I’ll continue to learn from him for the rest of my life. Love you, pops. Happy birthday.