Thursday, September 07, 2006
For My Dad, on His Birthday.
I would post a photo, but my dad would go nuts. He's got worries about Big Government. He also doesn't like having his picture taken.

This day in 1948, my dad was born in North Dakota, to a farmer turned surveyor turned gas station owner turned back to surveyor. He lived in the plains and ate books as a child. Due to this consumption of books, his head outgrew his body exponentially, and he was blessed with the biggest brain I have ever known. My dad is a certified genius.

My dad has ninety master degrees. Okay. He's got two, but that's still saying something. He teaches English as a second language for a community college. He used to work for big big dollars at a big big phone company, but his morality got to him and he opted out to be a fruit cutter at a grocery store before going back to teaching. My dad's got guts.

My dad is famous for saying lots of good things:

"It's not the end of the world."
"Things tend to figure themselves out."
"It's amazing how money shows up when you desperately need it."
"If you can't figure out WHAT to do, do SOMETHING. It helps move things along."
"I think Michael is the best thing that happened to you."
"I'm avoiding your mother."
"You don't have the personality to put up with bureaucracy--I'm amazed you've lasted as long as you have."
"Don't impeach Bush! Then, the country would be left to Dick Cheney!"
"You're pretty smart, kid."
"How much is it going to cost?"
"I need help figuring out what to do with your grandfather."

This is not the sum of good things my father has said, but you get the point. As we both age, I find that he is not filled so much with advice as epithets from his own life. He helps me out a lot in looking at the world from a different perspective. My dad can often be withdrawn, and I think my mother and I drive him nuts often. On the other hand, my dad has a presence most people cannot miss--he's funny and smart and has a way of teaching people, even through casual conversation.

My dad builds things. With all of his brains and his intellect, he is still connected to the present: he fabricates beautiful pieces of furniture in his workroom, his private Xanadu. He enjoys playing UNO and watching cartoons as well as reading the most recent theological doctrine in the church. My dad cusses with great fervor in the car, but tries not to on Sundays. He listens to me now more than ever.

When I was a kid, my dad would take me to the park where we would fly crappy plastic kites for hours. He'd put me in trees and take pictures of me, then help me get down. My dad gets excited about motorcycling, even though he doesn't own one. I think he's proud that I do. My dad poured over homework with me when I was young; I still need help with math to this day. I wish I could say his efforts paid off, but they didn't. I need a calculator just to get through the grocery store. He tried, though, and he never gave up on me.

That's the neatest thing about my dad: He doesn't give up. He gets the job done. He listens and contemplates and responds with great intelligence. More importantly, he is human. He has the worst jokes and puns one could ever imagine, and he embarrasses the shit out of my mother and I. On the other hand, he can quote Shakespeare at the drop of the hat, and not just the famous lines, but the obscure ones, too. He'll recite poetry out of his head and then claim it's 'nothing all that great.' He'll scour writing and proof-read like an editor. He speaks fluent Spanish and a touch of French. He taught himself Greek and has a minor in Latin. And all of these things are accomplishments. But most importantly, he's there.

Hey, Dad. I love you. Have a good birthday.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

Location: Detroit Rock City!
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    What I Live By:
    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"

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