Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 87 today. If he was here we would be having a massive cake with lots of candles. He would joke about needing a fire extinguisher nearby. He has been gone 25 years so the last time we had candles for him, there were quite a bit less on the cake.
What I do instead on this day is look at this picture of him in my office, think of him and tearfully play Dan Fogelbergs, “The Leader of the Band.” (If you go to this link, skip the ad.)
“He earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band”
Whether we intend to or not, our lives are a living legacy to our parents. My daughter in law honors and celebrates the birthdays of her kids grandparents and great-grandparents. The kids have spent time their grandparents but they have never met their great-grandparents. Yet they feel that they know them, through the incredible efforts of their mom. She has collected stories about her children’s ancestors, not only their accomplishments and life journey, but also were some of their favorite foods. She serves that food to her kids during the celebration of the person.
I would have to carefully pick through the list of my dad’s favorite foods. After all, he ate peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. He would encourage me to try it. I still can’t do it. But he did love apple pie with cheddar cheese or ice cream. That I can do.
Even though it has been a long time, I still honor my father. Everyday I continue the example of hard work and self discipline that he taught me. Some of my tax clients started out with my dad, I still care for them the way he would.
“I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And papa, I don’t think I said I love you near enough”
The highest compliment I would receive was when he told me that I was a gentlewoman and a scholar. I am still working on that.
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