Season Two, Episode Seven: Birthday Candles For My Dad

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Today is my dad’s 69th birthday. I am probably the definition of a daddy’s girl. I’m crazy about my dad and I love him to pieces. He’s my best friend. As far back as I can remember he’s been my partner in crime.

My parents are twenty years apart, so my dad was 41 when I was born. His age never stopped him from chasing me in the grass in our backyard or lifting a very giggly and squirmy five-year-old Me up so that I could touch the ceiling with my fingertips (my dad is 6’4″). As I grew older, I loved sitting with him (me on the couch, Dad in his recliner) as he leisurely smoked a cigarette from his green pack of Kool 100 Super Longs and we watched old reruns of the black and white classics–to this day, I still love watching The Andy Griffith Show and Bewitched with him.

My dad would also sit and tell me and my little brother stories of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm in Morris Chapel, Tennessee and of his time spent in Cleveland at his uncle’s house. I loved hearing how life used to be in the ’40s and ’50s and looking through the old photo albums at my grandparents (my grandpa died when my dad was very young, my grandma died when I was a baby) and my great-grandparents and my great-great grandparents. My dad is predominantly Cherokee-American, so I loved seeing my great-great grandmother and her long white braid that stretched to the ground (my dad swears she lived to be 105) and my great-grandparents’ high cheekbones and stunning profiles. He graduated from high school in Washington, D.C. in 1962 and told me about the dark days of when JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcolm X were all assassinated. He remembers Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement and he fought in Vietnam. He’s lived through thirteen US Presidents, from FDR to Barack Obama.

He’s still as funny and as smart as when I was a little girl. It’s hard for me to think of my dad as a senior citizen, because he is anything but. He’s still the head machinist at his job. He still smokes those Kool 100s. His favorite show is The Big Bang Theory. He loves being a grandpa and a great-grandpa (I have a 28 year old niece from one of my older half-brothers. She has a little girl herself.). He still criticizes the Browns every football season (he’s a Redskins fan) and reads The Plain Dealer daily and watches Jerry Springer and Maury every day after work because their insanity makes him feel like his day couldn’t be as bad as those guests’ are. He still encourages me to live my dreams and to keep working hard. He taught me that hard work and a strong education are the two most important things that a person can have next to their family. He taught me how to play Monopoly when I was five (no hotels or houses and I always got Boardwalk and Park Place and somehow won every time) and how to dance by standing on his feet in the kitchen while “My Girl” by The Temptations played on the local oldies station. He taught me to really appreciate music and told me I got my voice from my grandma. I am incredibly lucky to have him as a dad 🙂

Happy Birthday, Daddy ❤

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