As Valentine’s Day approaches, the memories of you crop up more frequently than usual. Our shared birthday on Valentine’s Day is probably one of my sweetest memories of you. When I was little, Mom would make your homemade three-layer coconut cake and my homemade three-layer heart-shaped strawberry cake all on the same day. She spoiled us! And then when I left for college, you and I would try to beat each other to make the early morning birthday wishes phone call.
You could fix anything or build anything, and I’m so grateful that you taught me to be capable with hand tools and power tools, install lights, build and refinish wood, etc. I’ve tried to pass those skills (and even some of your tools) on to your granddaughters. They had great big tool bags before they left for college (even bigger than the one you made for me) and knew how to use tools better than their boyfriends! You’d be proud! They get more new tools every Christmas, just like you always did. I remember your motto and quote you often: “If you have the choice to pay to have something done for you or buy the tool and learn to do it yourself, then buy that tool and do it. You’ll have the tool to keep forever.”
You also taught me your love of the outdoors, and the enjoyment of camping, fishing, fire building, water sports, and motorcycles. That persists through both generations as well. I’m especially glad you taught me (and most of my friends) to water ski. It still cracks people up when I tell them I first learned to slalom behind a 12’ aluminum fishing boat steered from the stern with a 9.5 horsepower Johnson outboard. We sure had some fun on Lake Livingston and Sam Rayburn.
It goes without saying that I wish I’d had more years with you. K and G loved their Papa and crawled all over the floor (and you) at playtime. Then they fed you at the nursing home. (Don’t tell Mom – we left her at home those days because she didn’t think the girls could get you to eat enough.) I wish they’d known you when they were older and been able to learn from you firsthand. But rest assured they have learned their Papa’s lessons.
When I was at the store last week, they had the Valentine cards out, so I stopped and looked to see what they had for Valentine Birthday. Not much! (Can you see my eyes rolling?) Only one card, and not that special either. I was kind of disappointed. Guess I’ll have to look at another place. Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.
P.S. The girls also had to change a tire in the driveway before they first left home with a car! 😉 I may have fussed at the time, but I’m grateful now that you made me do that.