Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Happy Birthday Pop!
Today is my father's 80th (!) birthday. In preparing for the BIG party, I looked at some old photos. I have sifted through yellowed, grainy black and white ones and stared cross-eyed at those displayed on my Mac. It is quite amazing to see both the progress of my father and that of technology. Time doesn't fly, it zooms at warp speed!
The early days
My pop was born in New Jersey, right across the water from Manhattan. This was back before the days of the Washington Bridge and the Twin Towers. He speaks fondly of going to the Met, roaming the streets of NYC and playing hours of handball. He graduated from high school at the top of his class, a handsome young man with slicked back hair (and yes there was lots of it!).
Like many of his generation, he was the first in the family to go to university, attending Michigan Tech. He was a frat boy and an engineering student, thus there were many ridiculous pranks and rituals, including swallowing gold fish (we can see now the benefits of all that fish oil). In addition, "Bobby" was a tennis star and left many a nursing student a-flutter. After graduating with honours ("school really wasn't that hard, you know") he paid back his debt to the U.S. army, with a deployment in Germany.
A family man
My Dad met my Mom (Elisabeth) on a U.S. army base, where she was working as a secretary. Her shapely legs and beautiful smile, immediately caught his attention and not long after they were married. With his deployment finished Bob and Beth headed back to the States via boat. My mom was sick for the whole trip and was thankful to reach NYC and the new in-laws. My folks initially settled in Arkansas but moved to California and Nevada. The details are blurry to me (clearly a lack of gold fish), but during this time my sister Susanne and brother Michael were born and not long after came Peter. Some six years later, I arrived - the family's pride and joy.
A traveling man
My Dad was a mining engineer and traveled to the far reaches of the world to visit mines, from Asia to Israel and New Zealand. We received treasures from all these trips, but best of all were the stories from far away lands. It gave all of us wanderlust - a bane for our families - a constantly changing environment is what I thrive on. We had a good, stable family life, one that allowed us to flourish. Respect and generosity were expected as was working hard and taking on responsibilities. Traits we all share still today.
The digital age
As the photos of my Dad become clearer with the advancement of technology and time, we can see the lines around his eyes beginning to form and become permanent. His hair too changes colour and shape. A few things remain the same however, the sparkle in his blue eyes is steadfast as his welcoming smile. Dad, may the twinkle never fade and the stories never end.
Happy Birthday - it has been quite a ride!