Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Dad

June 5th is my dad's 66th birthday and he has finally decided that after 44 years that he has decided to call it a career and has decided to retire from his job as a math department chairman. At the end of May my dad had a retirement dinner and I was so proud of him. Proud of the amount of love his staff had for him. He had been a Math Department Chairman at Hereford High School for 13 years and these were the people who were throwing him the dinner. Up to that point he had been a Middle School Math Department Chairman at about 3 to 4 other schools in his huge career. His staff had created a powerpoint of his 40 plus year career filled with music, pictures, and humor. Then his staff came up and everyone talked a little about what my dad meant to them. And this was interesting to me, because I never saw him as a school teacher. He never taught me, I never saw him interact with the kids in his class. But this outpouring of love was overwhelming and it was another side of my dad I have never seen. And then he did his speech. I never really expected him to be as eloquent a speech reader he was, but it should not have surprised me since he wrote a wonderful eulogy for his mother, my grandmother. But his speech was amazing. But after his dinner I was driving home and I started thinking about my dad. All the stuff he has gone through, all the stuff he has done for me and his family. He's made some mistakes, he's had some rough times and he had some good times. He's done some great travelling and has always stuck to a schedule. Goes to bed at 8pm. Gets up at 3am and runs for awhile, then goes into work, works all day, then gets home has dinner, does work, goes to bed. That seems to be his routine. The weekends he works, reads, runs, spends time with the family, or does whatever. And that is my dad in a nutshell. Very schedule oriented. Which is fine. I find myself sometimes dipping into that well and finding myself schedule oriented every once in awhile which I get from my dad. it's not often but sometimes it creeps out. Most of the time I am laid back as well.

So on this, his 66th birthday, and a few weeks before his retirement, I started to think up some of my memories of him and just wrote them down. I had so much written down that it surprised me how much I remembered when I have trouble remembering other bits of my life. Just goes to show you how important someone can be for you. So I thought I would just write a few rememberances for my dad. Not in any real order just off the cuff.

My Dad lost his father, my grandfather, at the age of 13. Being the oldest of 6 kids he had to take on the role of father figure for his siblings. It was rough but he was able to handle it while maintaining his schooling.

My Dad and Mom got seperated when I was about 14 or 15 and divorced after I turned 18, but it was an easy seperation on me and my sister. Meaning that my mother and father never fought in front of us, never moved us from one house to another, and were very cordial to each other in front of us. My Dad paid his alimony on time and never fought it. When my Mom's mother died, my Dad came down to the funeral and the wake and paid his respects to my grandfather, and when he passed my dad was down for that. It was both ways, my mom was there when my dad's mother died. They get along very well now and can be in the same place for family parties.  So if you ever need to get seperated the way my parents did it was perfect.

My Dad was the coach of my Little League baseball team for close to 5 years. That is not so unusual since lots of dads coach their children's teams, but since my dad is a math teacher and he loves his statistics. So he made statistics for us after every game and we loved it.

One year for my birthday, My Dad and I took a road trip to Chicago to go to Chicago Comic-Con. We got a room in the same hotel as the con, and while I was at the con my dad would lounge at the pool, or read, or whatever. Then in the evening we would explore Chicago. It was a long 12 hour drive to Chicago, and along 12 hour drive back, but at this age I could not drive so Dad took the wheel the whole time and we did not stop. While we were there we went to a Chicago White Sox baseball game, since the Cubs were away that week. We did not go into the Sears Tower, but did go into the John Hancock building which is just as tall. Ate some Chicago Style Pizza which is good. All in all a great time.

My Dad is a runner. He did races often and I would go to some of them. One father's day when I had grown up and was working for WLIF the radio station. We hosted a race and my dad ran it, so I got to see him and introduce him to the people I worked with and that was cool.

When I was younger during the last week of summer before school started for both Dad and I, I would go with my Dad a day or two to his work where he would be prepping for the school year. I would stamp school books, draw on his chalkboard, and generally just help my dad for a few hours. He would get me a soda which for me was huge.

My Dad loves Stevie Nicks, and when it came time that my sister and I thought we were ready for a real pet, we had to try and convince him to get a cat for us. We all wanted one, but he was kind of on the fence about it. But what is really great is that My sister and I came up with the perfect name. We told my Dad that we wanted to name our cat Gypsy, named after the song from Stevie Nicks. That convinced him and we got a cat. However, 5 years or so later my dad unfortunately was the one who found her lifeless body. She had been hit by a car, since she was an outdoor cat. Her lifeless body was right in front of my dad's car. And when he turned on his car and he turned on his headlights, he saw the body. And it crushed him.

My Dad always liked to travel and he has been all over. Europe multiple times, Canada multiple times, and has visited a lot of states in the United States as well. And when I was younger my family would go to Ocean City NJ where my mom's sister lived for our vacations. One year we all went to New York and Boston as well. After my parents seperated my dad more travelling and sometimes my sister and I would go along. We went to Boston again, flew to California and did LA, San Diego, and San Francisco. We flew to Seattle and did that and Vancouver, then back to San Francisco. And the last major trip I remember taking with my dad was flying to Denver, spending time there, driving to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, then driving back to Denver with a stopover in Boulder. All nice trips, all fun trips. My Dad takes my nephews on week's vacations as well nowadays. And he and my stepmom still do some travelling. In fact he will be going to Belgium this summer. So pretty cool.

Every year My Dad and I go to a Ravens football game together, with the exception of last year when he got me and my wife and sister and brother in law tickets to Ravens Vs. Redskins. But every year since the Ravens have been in existence we have gone to a game together. We went to the first ever Ravens Playoff game in their history on New Year's eve 2000. We also used to go to Orioles games together, but now not so much. In fact we went to the very last game at Memorial Stadium for the Orioles, before they moved to Camden Yards. We used to go see the Bullets/Wizards when they would sometimes play a game in Baltimore, which they haven't done in years. So it is always a lot of fun when my dad and I do these things together.

My Dad started my Comic Book collection and got me interested in comics. We've watched movies together just the two of us. We saw Midnight Run, Every Which Way but Loose, The Maltese Falcon, and probably more that I can't remember. He loves his grandkids and is looking forward to spending time with them now that he is retired.

I love my Dad. I am lucky that I feel that he loves me too. I am lucky for all the time I have spent with him and will spend with him for many years. We may not talk everyday, but I know my dad is concerned for me and my family and I am lucky that I have this relationship with my Dad. I hear horror stories about people having strained relations with their father, and am so happy that I do not have this problem. Dad I love you and I hope I did not embarass you too much. As proof of how great my dad is. I am posting the last three minutes of his Retirement Speech. in my opinion they were the best part of the speech.   Happy Birthday Dad! Happy Retirement! And I will definitly talk to you soon. Love Dylan.