Happy Birthday to my Father

Today is my father's birthday. I'm excited because my parents are on their way to visit me this weekend, and we're taking my Dad to his first professional football game that is not a preseason or exhibition game. If you read my last post, you know what a sports fan my father is, and while I'm really nervous about the process of finding parking, and catching a shuttle and all that goes into to Gameday, I'm also incredibly thrilled to share these moments with him.

Last year, I wrote the following about him, also in celebration of his birthday, and anything I would write today would be some version of this, so I'm reposting it:

People love him instantly. He is gregarious, filling up the room with his energy.  He never whispers. He is never quiet, never mistaken for someone else. He jokes that he carries the china shop with him, the proverbial bull inside. But besides being a bit careless with his things, barrelling through life at full speed and not always noticing his surroundings (head in book and all), my father is not bullish or cruel, stubborn sometimes yes, but not to a fault. In my recollections, he speaks up for what he thinks is right over concern for reputation or what others think.  He taught me to do the same, never admonishing me for sticking up for myself or others on the playground, recognizing my rebellious nature and trying to shape it into something that mattered rather than rebellion for the sake of itself. 

I am like my father in many ways, absent-minded, obsessed with big ideas, with change and important thoughts. I can be too serious, go too deeply into myself, miss what is in front of me. I am passionate like him. I laugh quickly and loudly. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I lose my keys once or twice a day. I survive on music and caffeine, conversations and books. Words are my profession and I work hard every single day to find the ones I need for each specific telling of a story, each example I share in class, each connection I make. I learned from both of my parents the power of words; it is most my strongly held belief, and the one that expresses to my father the things I don’t know how to tell him like how I appreciate what he taught me about music, that he bought me my first boom-box at a yard sale, that he talked about lyrics and chord progressions, key changes and made me listen to Mozart and Bach and Beethoven and The Beatles and Elton John and Billy Joel. Music has always been significant in my life and I know that began with him. I wish I could take back things that hurt him, words and actions that disappointed him, made him worry, but I know that the scars and secrets bind us together. But mostly, I hope he knows how deeply he is loved, how often I think of him in a day, how many stories begin and end with him, how much of my life has been shaped by being a part of his. 

I might not have always admitted it, especially when I felt mortified as a teenager to have a father everyone knew, one who was loud and told you what he thought, and was not like my friends' fathers, at all, but I have always admired my father. I have always been proud to be his first-born, his daughter, his likeness. 

Happy Birthday to the man whose encouragement and joy for me has never wavered, who taught me the importance of finding and using my voice, whose love of words I inherited, and who taught me that it's okay to be a little weird, to have your own interests, opinions and thoughts that fall outside the box. My father does not march to the beat of his own drum; he doesn't even need a beat.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I'm so glad we get spend some time with you.

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Love this family pic of my brother, me, my parents and niece (Check out my dad's personalized jacket; stylin')