Happy Birthday to my Dad

Today is my Dad's birthday; he is 55 years old. He is my hero, my Superman, if you will. Always has been. I admire the hell out of my Dad. I always have. He has earned my respect a million times over, and if I'm half the man he is, I'll be a damned good person.

This blog is about my Dad, to give you a snapshot of him. I lost the other one I wrote, a few years ago. So I started this one from scratch. It will ramble, a bit. It's hard to discuss a person, we're not flat, or two-dimensional. Humans are weirdly 8 or 9 dimensional, and my Dad is no exception.

My Dad doesn't spend much time on the internet. If he is online he's reading the news over on Yahoo! This is a boon for me, because that means I can be completely frank and he won't be embarrassed or uncomfortable about this blog. He is very humble, and people paying attention to him, being the centre of attention is something he's not happy with-- ever!

Now, he's not bad with computers at all. He uses them at work, without any trouble at all; he just doesn't surf like I do. I suppose that's a normal, generational thing, we all tend to be a little more technical than our parents. I remember explaining "blog" to him once, he'd heard it on the news or something. "Well, Dad it's a personal website where you write about stuff." He nodded and told me later that he was reminded of journalists. In a way, he's very right.

Let me talk about my Dad. He's the son of farmers; when I was little and we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa we'd play with the bunnies and chickens, and would help pick the tomatoes and cucumbers! It was always fun. They raised cows and pigs, chickens and rabbits, as well as corn and various veggies.

I remember him telling us about the Shetland ponies they had, and how one liked to bite Grandpa. He hated that pony with a passion.

Dad is really good with growing things. Every summer we had a garden; I hated weeding it, but I did love those sun warm tomatoes. There's something special about growing your own veggies.

My Dad has a knack with mechanical things, too. If it's broken, he can fix it-- even if it's something he's never taken apart before. He has this amazing ability to dismantle anything and put it back without missing any pieces! I'd say he's a techno-mancer. I've never met anyone with his ability to fix things. He never studied it in college-- he never went to college; he just has this awesome, innate ability. It's really neat.

He has taught me a lot of things over the years. He taught me how to make really good scrambled eggs and oatmeal with raisins. His scrambled are very light and fluffy, and everyone who eats them tells me they're awesome [I don't eat eggs]. He taught me how to grill food to perfection. There's a trick to grilling chicken all the way done-- because you don't want to eat raw chicken-- without drying it out. He also taught me how to make really good home fries! He's a really good cook.

Dad taught me how to cuss cars, too. He taught me the best way to lean over the engine, look pointedly at the broken part, buried behind half a tonne of hoses, tubes, wires and metal and softly begin the litany of profanity. From questioning the parentage of the engineer, to cursing the bean-counter with a dozen different STI's, the litany continues. Often is starts with a simple, "What in the world was this joker thinking? Even on lifts I couldn't get to that? Was his mother smoking crack when she was pregnant?"

Of course, depending on the complexity of the problem, the difficulty in removing the parts in the way, and the ferocity with which the car fights back the litany often degenerates into, "That stupid shit, I can't believe anyone ever thought this was a good idea. What was he thinking? What a complete pecker! Dammit all!" * I have to admit, when I cuss a car, I'm more likely to use "cocksucker", "fucker", "cunting" and "motherfucker". But everyone has their own Litany Of Profanity for Use with Auto-mobiles-- and if you don't, you should get one.

While teaching me the best way to use profanity to force the car to let him get that damned broken bit off, he also taught me a lot about how to care for an auto-mobile. I can change the oil, rotate and change tires, install brake-pads, replace oil, fuel and air filters; he taught me how to do my spark plugs, and wires, and even install a muffler. Pretty much whatever needs to be done, Dad can do it, so I've called him many times asking advice or a quick walk-through. I happily admit, I'm not in any hurry to do any of these things, but I've helped my Love work on his car a handful of times-- and I know what I'm doing. All thanks to my Dad.

Dad can fix clogged pipes, work a snake (which can be a real pain in the ass) and fix plug sockets. He can install wiring, piping, and carpet. He even taught me how to hang dry-wall-- not a fun thing, at all, but the chalk-line is fun to play with!

Dad is an all-around handyman, and was never shy about teaching us kids how to do the work, too. Thanks to him we know our ways around a tool box; even my sister who is car-illiterate is a good fixer. He would explain what he was doing, if the job didn't make him mad; otherwise he'd explain later. He didn't take his frustration out on us, though-- he would just get quiet and instead of "this goes here, and that goes there" he'd revert to, "Pass me that 3/4ths; could you hand me that ball peen?"

Dad can sooth a colicky baby to sleep, and entertain a toddler. He's really good with kids, and has this crazy ability to make even the more daemonic kid behave-- just by looking at them. I think it's the moustache, myself. Dad has an epic 'stache! He likes playing with children, blocks, sand castles, sledding! He's an awesome grandpa, and loves every moment he can spent with his 9 grandchildren [I guess there are technically 7; but my sister's boyfriend has a daughter, and my sister's stepson from her marriage still sees her, so there are 9, all together.]

Dad is one of those Christians that I respect. He believes with all his heart that doing the right thing means loving his neighbour. He doesn't always like people-- in fact, I inherited my dislike of humanity from him-- but he would be a hypocrite if he didn't try to love everyone. He hates hypocrisy. He believes that following Jesus means working hard, loving people and being as kind and compassionate as he can be. It means that he's so busy living the right way, caring for people, loving his family, that he doesn't have time to tell other people what to do. Besides, that's on them, as he'd say. He wants to be able to look at himself in the mirror and not be ashamed; so he lives his faith. If more Christians did that, the world would be full of love, instead of hate.

Dad never went to college; but he's never stopped learning. He works for a Danish company that does R&D for auto-mobile parts, and something called "sealing solutions"-- that's just a fancy way of saying sealant, stoppers and other things to prevent leaks. He works in the auto part, and spends his days attaching parts for several auto-makers to his machines, setting up the macros to oscillate the shit out of it, and trying to break it. If it doesn't break along the stress points after so many movements, they crank up the speed and load. It's pretty damned cool, if you ask me!

When I was growing up, he worked in a paper mill; he was in "the Lab" there, after working his way up from the cutting floor (which is exactly what it sounds like, the part of the factory where they cut the huge rolls of paper into the sizes that the customer ordered). In the lab he was a quality tester, and he did all sorts of weird things. Everything making toy boats to float across a pool of ink (to test the ability of the paper to soak the ink or repel it) to some mercury thing, to microwaving the paper to dry it, and test it's ability to wet and dry over and over. Some of the tests confused me, but they always sounded so fun! He taught us how to make hand-made paper, too.

He doesn't think very highly of himself, my Dad. He is just himself, and I like him that way! He's curious about the world around him, and I think he could have been a scientist. He gifted me with the acceptance, the safe space, to talk about black holes, and string theory and the multi-verse theory with him. Mind you, I never explained this to my Dad-- he's already pretty well versed in this stuff, and we have had some really long, involved conversations about astronomy, magnetics, and even quarks. His curiosity about the world is so normal, to me, that I've been constantly surprised by people his age who don't care how it works, only that it does.

Dad taught me to find out Why it does that! How does that Do that! OMG, did you see that! Wasn't that amazing?! The why and how are just as important as the what; that's what he taught me. I'm so glad he never told me I couldn't because I was a girl; he only told me I could. That I should never stop asking, never stop looking for the answers, even if it was just because I wanted to know. There's never a reason that I needed to have; "I was curious" was more than enough.

Dad taught me to care for my world; to be a conservationist. I'm more radically green than he is, but only by about |-| much [by that I mean I'm more willing to be politically green; he really isn't politically active at all]. He composts, recycles, doesn't eat packaged food (with the exception of a instant mashed, which he loves, and frozen veggies). He taught me to leave the world in a better place than it was when I got here-- he's very Pagan in his Christianity. He taught me to fish, how to properly bait the hook and to throw back anything I wasn't willing to eat. He makes jellies and jams-- home made! He can make soap, too; dip candles, and even reload his bullets. He's a very handy guy to have around when you're learning stuff.

Dad is honest to a fault. He doesn't say things he doesn't mean. He won't lie to make you feel better; but he will be diplomatic if your shirt looks like a cat puked on it. He is utterly respectful of women, and supports equal rights. I've always called him a feminist. He never thought he was better than anyone, and patriarchy isn't something he supports.**

My Dad is pretty shy, like I am; and he doesn't really like people. It's hard to explain, really, but he doesn't always relate well to others, and so he is much more likely to sit, listening, than to socialise. He'd rather be home than out, rather be with close friends and family enjoying an afternoon in the shade, drinking lemonade or iced tea, than go to a restaurant or the cinema. He's the original home-body.

He's not perfect, my Dad, and I do know his faults; they just don't change the fact that I think he's a worthwhile person to emulate. He stopped drinking when I was very small because he preferred whiskey and felt that he got "mean". He chews tobacco, and right now, that's his only vice. He never cheated on my mother, but I do wish he'd get out there now, and meet some nice lady. He just doesn't have any interest in dating again. I think he's one of those "one-love" kind of people, and that makes me sad for him.

He's a push-over some times, too, my Dad. When he loves you, he loves you, and will move heaven and earth for you.

He's loyal to his family and friends. He isn't a God-Botherer. He just is himself.

And isn't that all we really want to be, a good-self? That's the biggest lesson he taught me. He has lived a life devoted to being a good person... that's a pretty big deal.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you! I hope today is overflowing with love and blessings. I miss you, so much! And I wish we could be there for the cake.

Dad and his sister, Linda, last summer at my cousin's house. I don't know why they were sticking their tongues out! And yes, the 'stache is bright red.

*My Dad doesn't say fuck, it's one of the words he hates; bitch too, "sonova..." is about the closest he gets. He told me once it was because he didn't want to insult anyone's mother-- he'd insult the person if he felt that strongly.

** Weirdly, my mother was much more into the trappings of the patriarchy than Dad. I think she wanted to use it as a weapon against my sister and I; but Dad's temperament doesn't go that way, at all.


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