Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday Wonder - Dad’s 60th

We celebrated Dad’s 60th birthday a few weeks ago.
A significant effort, considering that in the last year, BOTH of Corbin’s parents turned 60 without so much as a card from us, and their 40th wedding anniversary rolled by without notice. Oops. I’m still blaming Cameron on the whole anniversary thing, as she’s the daughter and should have alerted us all, but she scoffs at the thought that I would even begin to assign her that responsibility.
So a couple of months ago we realized that Dad’s 60th birthday coincided with everyone filing into town for Christmas this year. All three of my brothers and their families traveled from Tulsa and Atlanta, so the whole gang was here to honor Dad on this milestone birthday. We celebrated with a great dinner downtown Fort Worth and then met up with some close family friends afterwards for dessert. Very fun, a special time with lots of laughing and warm fuzzies that accompany both Christmas’ approach and being with much-loved family.
Mom asked each of us in advance to bring some little trinket that reminds us of Dad, something significant symbolizing our relationship with him. She plans to take these gifts and arrange them in a shadow box, treasured knickknacks that symbolize 60 years (so far!) of a life well-lived.

One of the more colorful gifts included a giant needle. Luke reminded us of Dad’s “McGuiver-ish” resourceful avoidance of the emergency room one cold December night after gashing himself with a knife. Long story, but that particular Christmas Dad managed to stab himself in the thigh right as we were piling in the car to travel to South Texas. After a little rummaging through Mom’s sewing kit for a needle and the crowded bathroom drawers for dental floss, Dad sewed himself up and the inch-deep incision healed rather quickly without wasting time and money at the emergency room. Yuck.
Trey brought an entire box of trinkets - he couldn't decide on just one character quality. Stories of rebuilding car engines, flying adventures and remodeling projects abounded. But at the core of Trey's "presentation" was a heart-felt gratitude for Dad's time and instruction, combined with a heaping acknowledgment of our father's oft-said "I'm proud of you, son."
It was especially touching to hear my three sisters-in-law speak of Dad’s impact and influence, neat to see Amy, Julie and Crystal feel embraced by Dad’s gentle spirit. The common themes communicated around the table centered on Dad’s hard work ethic, his creativity and that "proud of you" thing.

I brought along a pen for Dad, symbolizing his writing gifts passed on from Granny. But before the pen idea, I had been looking for peacock feathers (looks like I could have brought both - and more - had I followed Trey's lead). Proud as a peacock. I've always felt that from Dad. Always known that he believed in me and held more confidence in me than I have in myself (I understand that a little more now as a parent). But what HUGE benefits for a girl to grow up in her father's shade, knowing that she is not only loved and protected, but also doted on and believed in!
Before our dinner together I scanned about a hundred e-mails in my "Cappy" folder, e-mails saved from Dad, thinking I might highlight and pull out specific times he's told me, "You're a great mom... You're doing a good job... You are handling this great with the kids..." But there were too many. No way I could capture them all.
Interesting that my siblings and even their spouses have heard those sentiments from Dad through the years. Tell you what, with our family's quirks, this "proud of you" thing from Dad covers a lot of imperfections. Gives us wings to fly. The pilot extraordinaire knows how to launch his own kids.

In the coming weeks that little shadow box will take it's place on a wall of my parents' new home. If I know my mom, it will hang in an easily visible yet not-too-prominent place. I imagine it'll get a little dusty over the years, with passerbys hardly noticing it from familiarity. But the treasures it shelves are not simply constrained within the glass box. The value and instruction and creativity will continue on to Branson's children, Bogan's grandchildren, and even Marshall's great-grandchildren. James generations will be "launched" to love through Cappy's influence, just as we were launched from our grandparents and great-grandparents before us.
One parting thought... Dad, we love you. We're proud of you. You're doing a great job!

Dad recently wrote a fantastic "memoir" post, Providence... a great read.

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts (most weeks!) - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight inspiring friends and people in my life... enjoy! **