Today, June 5, 2011, is my dad's 70th birthday. お誕生日お目出度う, dad.
My dad's been a really important part of my life. As are all dads in the lives of those of us who have dads. Which is all of us. Even those who don't know their dads. But I know mine. Or at least I think I do.
My dad's done a lot of stuff that readers of this blog ought to thank him for. I wouldn't have turned out the way I did had he not made some pretty unusual decisions in his life.
When I was just eight years old and my sister was six, my dad was working for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. He was right there in corporate headquarters in Akron, Ohio working a respectable middle class job like a good dad does to provide for his family. One day his boss asked him if he would consider packing us all up and moving us to Nairobi, Kenya. He generously gave my dad a weekend to decide.
Now you kids out there have to understand this was way before the Internets were even a twinkle in Al Gore's eye. We were living in Wadsworth, Ohio, a teenie tiny little town without even a well-stocked library. My dad barely knew where to find Kenya on a map. His only sources of reliable information were the World Book Encyclopedia and a couple of people at Firestone he didn't know all that well who had been over to Nairobi. At least they said it was an OK place.
On the basis of this and my mom's enthusiasm for adventure, my dad moved us all out to Africa where we spent a little over three years. If I'd spent those three years, from ages eight to eleven, in Wadsworth, Ohio with its Saturday morning cartoons, its shopping malls and its population of proudly White Americans who do not question their God or their government I would have turned out a totally different person from who I am today. Thank you dad, for saving me from that fate.
I'm not sure my dad ever really understood my fascination with monster movies, rock and roll guitar and Zen. My mom was the arsty one. But he never said a word to try and dissuade me from pursuing the things I loved. He bought me my first guitar and my first bass.
And my dad paid my way through college. Can you imagine that? He decided some time early in my and my sister's childhoods that neither of us would take out loans for our Bachelor's degrees. Some of my friends are still paying off their college loans. But I'm not. Amazing. I can't thank him enough for that.
When my mom became ill dad took it upon himself to care for her. He didn't want her languishing in some medical facility. He made sure that she was with him in her own home right till the end. Lots of people with spouses that have the condition my mom did dump their spouses and don't look back. Not my dad. The sacrifices he made for her... Aw jeez, I'm tearing up just writing about it. Read Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate if you want some more details.
There's so much more I could say. But I'd rather go downstairs and hang out with the man himself. You'll excuse me. Thanks!