There is a song by the famous singer Amy Grant I used to listen to all the time, called My Father’s Eyes. In it she talks about the old saying where people so often say this or that person has their mother’s or father’s eyes, then compares it to having eyes that see what God, the heavenly father sees. It’s a cool song, and of course, I’ve often heard people say that this person (usually a child) has his or her father’s eyes. Let me address my dad in the rest of this blog entry, since he just recently had his 91st birthday (sorry this is late)…
Well, I certainly can’t say I have my father’s eyes. Your eyes are blue and mine are brown. You only wear glasses for reading. I have to wear tri-focals all the time. However, I have certainly had my fair share of people tell me I am so much like you. This used to always take me by surprise, since I’ve always seen myself much more like Mom. I have her coloring, the same fiery temper, similar likes and dislikes, and I even have somewhat of an artistic bent, though no way near the talent Mom had. I’ll never forget the first time I looked down at my hands and suddenly realized with shock, they looked like Mom’s, or the time I tried on a cute knee-length dress on in a boutique, but quickly returned it when I saw Mom’s middle-aged knees in the full-length mirror! But me, like Dad?…Nah, I couldn’t buy that one. I always assumed we were not at all alike.
Now, however, that you have been living with us for 8 months, I have had ample opportunity to observe you more closely than in the previous 42 years we lived on opposite sides of the world. Shock on me, every so often I hear you say something, and I realize I talk like that or I see a mannerism and have to admit I do that too.
Like the time you were annoying me with your almost obsessive attention to detail and orderliness. Just as I was feeling miffed with it, I suddenly got a mental picture of my own quirky obsession with neatness and order. How often have I laughingly called myself the female Hercule Poirot! Suddenly, I am filled with compassion for my husband, who now has 2 obsessively orderly neat freaks to live with. However, this very neatness and orderliness has often been a great help in my work and in maintaining a (relatively) smoothly running home. Thanks, Dad.
Then there’s Dad, the teacher. Now that I look back on life growing up, and also observe you now, you were and are, always ‘teaching’ people something. I remember you trying to help me learn to write cursive letters…particularly the letter ‘a’. You had me practicing it over and over again, patiently trying to show me how I was not forming the letter correctly and me feeling so frustrated because what I saw myself writing looked to me exactly like the sample I was to imitate. You never lost patience with me. You just kept trying. In recent years, it is sign language you are so eager to teach everyone. And I mean everyone! Anyone who will give you an audience, you will teach. I had never thought of you as a teacher before, but now I think of it, I realize you always had that impulse to teach. My whole adult life has involved teaching, all in an informal basis. I home educated our children. I teach university students as I mentor them. I have taught lay counseling for years. I ‘teach’ younger couples how to make relationships work, as we share our lives and stories with them. Mom was not the teacher type, so this must have come from you. Thanks, Dad.
They say cleanliness is next to godliness. If this is so, then you must be a very godly person! I always remember you as being a real stickler for cleanliness, whether it was our appearance or our living space. You were not obsessive about this, but you did have your high standards and expected us to adhere to them. We may not have had a prosperous home, but we certainly had a clean one. We may not have worn the latest fashion, but we were always neat and clean. This, I definitely picked up on as a child and still maintain to this day. I like a clean home, and though often challenged with children who did not share my interest in cleanliness, usually was successful in accomplishing this. I have been struck more than once since you have come to live with us, your tenaciousness with washing your hands before tackling any kind of food or after any kind of job you might consider messy, dusty, or otherwise contaminated. You take care with your appearance. No scruffy facial hair. Clothes clean, tidy, and color coordinated. You start getting fussy if your hair is feeling a bit too long or your nails need cutting. You still care, even at 91! This, I admire.
So, in these 9 months, I have had opportunity to see the little ways I am more like you than I would have ever realized. You have given me gifts possibly you, yourself were unaware of. So, this year, as I wish you a very happy 92nd year, I also wish to say congratulations on making it this far, in such good shape…and thank you, Dad!