Some children look up to their dads because they’re big and strong. Some admire their dads because they can play ball, or assemble model airplanes, or play the guitar. Some think their dads are “the best” because they pick them up from school and read them bedtime stories at night.
I can tell you that in all my years my dad never played ball with me, built a model airplane with me, and certainly does NOT know how to play the guitar. I don’t recall my dad picking me up from school—I rode the bus—and I don’t recall any bedtime stories either.
But my dad is one of the smartest and hardest working people I know. He lied about his age to enlist in the army at age 17 (against his parents’ wishes) then served over 20 years in the Air Force as an air traffic controller—an incredibly stressful and demanding job—without finishing high school. He then worked another 20 years as a civilian air traffic controller, working through the air traffic control strike back in 1981. If you’re old enough to remember that strike you also might recall the picketing, death threats, cancelled flights, and turmoil in the United States because of that strike. He went on to work as an Air Accident Investigator for the Federal Aviation Administration flying all around the country to help determine why planes had crashed.
In Japan in the 1960s he was an emcee opening for Tony Bennett as well as other famous entertainers. He has always been a charmer and can engage anyone—and I mean anyone—in conversation. He could walk into a room a stranger and leave as a friend to anyone he met.
My dad is turning 85 years old this June and continues to teach golf skills and leadership to children in Oklahoma City. He also helps at youth soccer games, does his own yard work, and volunteers at his church. I can only hope to be half as active as him when I celebrate my 85th birthday.
My dad may not wear a cape or mask or have special powers but he still is my hero. He is the muse for the greeting card writers who offer cards that say “Best Dad Ever”. My Dad has never been perfect, but he has been the perfect father for me. I thank God for who my father is and for the place he has had in my life.
Thanks, Dad. I love you.
And thank you, God.