Our greatest strength
lies in the gentleness
of our heart.
I always considered myself lucky -- to have hit the jackpot in the dad lottery. He is one of the most generous people I know, curious and interested in the world, willing to wonder and delve into questions and problems, and though he doesn't always show it, incredibly sensitive, especially to those who have less than he does. And my dad always seemed to think that he had more than enough.
I like to tell the story of how he brought home the homeless guy because I was away for a year, so there was a whole empty room in the house!
But I am also fond of telling the story how after I expressed an interest in morse code, that he bought three transmitters, mounted each on a board and then carved in the codes for the alphabet. After we had all (my youngers and I) learned the codes, we'd sit around the dining room table (which we didn't use to eat from) and dit dah dit dah each other. Our transmitters were not actually connected to anything, so our messages just went out to the room, but we were happy.
As an adult, especially since my siblings passed, I have seen other sides of my pops, maybe seen some quirky aspects of his personality with the volume turned up. I get frustrated with his penchant for the conspiracy theory and the negative outlook. But I have learned to see that age can make folks feel vulnerable and powerless. Growing old gracefully requires one to release our complete competency, and this is hard for my dad.
I refuse to believe that his grumpy old man routine he gets caught up in sometimes is not his true nature.
Being an adult with my dad is not all bad. He shares more with me than he used to. And though it isn't always rainbows and puppies, more frequently it is fear and insecurity, I still appreciate these glimpses into his personality.
This past weekend, he was complaining because my mom didn't invite him to a garage sale she was going to with a girlfriend. It is funny because she never wants to go with him to the thrift store or garage sale, but she still wants to be invited. I reminded him that he often didn't want to go whenever she invited him places. He was salty, grumpy old man style.
A bit later, mom arrived and apparently handed him a bag of goodies ... a gift from the garage sale. I was still working in the other room. My dad came over pleased as pie with his gift. Look what your mom brought me! He beamed. And he giggled, good thing she didn't know he had been complaining.
That is my dad... he might be feeling entitled to complain more than when I was younger, but he still is able to appreciate more than most.
Happy birthday, Pops... love you very much.