I don’t remember much about my dad until I was about 10. My parents had separated before I remember, and although my dad took us on weekends and Wednesdays, I don’t remember much about it… Maybe my memory is just really bad.
But as I entered double-digit ages, my dad started explaining things to me. He’s full of knowledge that he passed it on to me almost as eagerly as I sucked it up. One afternoon, somewhat bizarrely, he taught me military ranks and insignia; I can still explain the difference between an Army captain and a Navy one. (It’s big.) He shared Fred Astaire movies, he discussed American history, he played games with state capitals. He loved to help with homework.
When we were a little older, he turned a blind eye when we snuck his Playboy magazines from his bedside table — in lieu, I think, of actually teaching us about the birds and the bees, and honestly, I don’t think our sex education was lacking. I’m not sure if I’d have wanted a more personal discussion of the matter with him, anyway, since he had cheated on my mom, after all. Best to leave it to the magazines.
He taught me to cook. By the time I was 12, I could manage spaghetti Bolognese or tacos, including the salad and fixings. (Not too impressive by mom-and-daughter standards, probably, but even that modest skill served me well in my life.)
Even though it meant all sorts of time off work, he took me to little league way out by his house. When I wanted to be a UCLA ball boy, he got me to every game on time and stayed until the bitter end. He let me stay home from school one Halloween so I could make a haunted house in the backyard.
Most of all, he never seemed bored by my presence. In my memory, he’s never had that flat, spent expression nearly everyone gets around kids sometimes (even “kid people” like me). He is energized by engaging with other people, especially kids, and that’s at least partly where I get that quality myself.
So today, on his 70th birthday, I’d like to just say