My family just recently celebrated my Dad's 75th birthday in October. We are a Birthday Partying family anyway, sometimes to the annoyance of the Birthdayee. (is that a word?) We invite close friends and family for dinner (often just pizza) and the traditional "Cake N IceCream" We have dinner, sit for awhile, and then have "Cake N IceCream". Trust me, when you are a young one, it's torment going thru the motions of waiting for the "Time to Open the Presents" time! The "Guest of Honor" gets the "Chair" and has presents brought to him. (usually by the youngest one available, to make it s l o w e r and oh so hard to wait) Of course the little presents are first.... mainly cuz we know it's the BIG ONE that you really want. Birthday cards MUST be read aloud by the Honoree...and then passed around and appreciated and commented on how perfectly appropriate it is for that particular victim. Then the Big One!
Well, this year the Big One was himself. My Hero/Dad. I know if you've read much about anything I've said, I've said a few times "My Dad says............." or "My Parents say/told me/did this/did that........) I can't tell you the respect I have for my father, and we all share it. I love him still like a little girl adoring her father, and I always will. We all do.
He was a tough and unbending father when we were young children. We knew if he said "No" he meant it, and we darn well better not ask again, or whine or complain. That was It. Period. We knew that if Mom said no, we better not risk our lives by asking Dad. They stood as one unit and never failed to support one another. (A song by Holly Dunn says it "Daddy's Hands" makes me think of him every time I hear it.)
On the other hand .... he was always right in on the play that we had, rough housing on the floor, making forts outside with lawn chairs and blankets.... searching for and catching lizards, horny toads or whatever. We camped as early as I can remember, and those were/are still some of my favorite memories. We lived on base when Mom and Dad bought our first pickup truck and camper. Dad went to pick it up (not sure where from now that I think about it.) It took a million years for him to finally come driving up in that truck and camper.... soooo exciting.... That camper was truly one of my best memories. Our best friends, the Christiansons bought a camper at the same time, and we all had motorcycles. When I was young I rode with Dad and he'd race ahead and then hide from everyone, so they would pass us and not know where we were. He just loved to play. All us kids had our own motorcycles when we were old enough. Yep, we got in lots of trouble, and there were accidents.... scarey times, but such fun.
I used to go spend as much time as I possibly could with my Aunt Gladys and Uncle Bill at their ranch in Oreana. I had a love of horses from an early age, and my parents lost me to Bill & Gladys often. Bill & Gladys gave me my first horse when I was 11, and my Hero brought her home after putting up a fence on the acreage we had at the time. The horse was a year old at the time, and she taught me immeasurable lessons. My Dad helped me with some of the tough lessons, and provided "man power" when I needed it. Sometimes I wonder how I survived, knowing what I know now, but he was there, through it all.
Dad and I built a 'barn' of sorts from a brand new 'trailer home' that had been half burned in a fire. The unburned half was alot of work for he and I. But after hours of hammering, measuring, sweating, and learning ... my horse had a barn with a bed built in it for me.
Dad bought a broke down tractor for him and I to fix and get running. We worked on that thing for hours, though I'm not sure how much help I really would have been, I cleaned oil and grime from it to me. When it finally ran, it made a most satisfying "POP" from the can over the exhaust. Success!
We also put together an old Jeep Willis (not sure if that's the correct name for that) and we drove it around for fun. I may be mistaken, but it seems like we sat on some plywood on crates for seats for a time, but we were having so much fun. I was reminded of that when Alan Jackson's song came out "When Daddy Let Me Drive".
Anyway, this type of memory recounting could go on for hours and days, I"m sure. And alot of it was reminisced at the party we had for him last month. I go over that party often in my mind, and savor each moment to have that pleasurable feeling as often as possible. It was kind of like Christmas. You wait and plan for so long, and it's over way too quick. It was a surprise party, and he says he was surprised. I don't know how that can be, I'm sure he couldn't really believe a monument like 75 would get by us that easily. Most of us live here or nearby. My brother doesn't. Jerry had told us he wasn't going to be able to make it, and I wasn't sure whether to believe him or not. I couldn't believe he wouldn't "do whatever was necessary" to be here, but I know how life gets in the way. The celebration would go on, and we would miss him. MY Celebration started the day before my Dad's party when my daughter Katie and 2 of my Grandsons were there at my house. The oldest, Austin, said, Grandma there is someone else in your house. And there before my shocked eyes, was the wayward brother Jerry.
I'm the 'baby' of my brother and sisters, and he is next in line. We hugged and I cried, while blubbering "Thank you for coming.... it's good to see you at a Happy Time" He was here 2 years ago just in time to lose my sister, Arlene. It truly was a joyful treasure for him to be here. We had plans to have a family portrait taken with Mom and Dad, their children, spouses and Grandchildren and Great Grand Children. Now we would be as complete as possible. It's hard to have thoughts like that, but we really wanted one huge group picture before we lost anyone else. Now that would be possible.
No one else knew that he was there, and I had that little thought/gift tucked in my heart all the rest of that day, til we went to my sister Ardie's the next day to surprise her. Wayne and I got there first, and I was able to photograph her seeing him and having that look of befuddlement when she was looking out in her field at him, and then the realization hitting her that it WAS him. More Tears.
So, while all of us gathered for the party, we had lots of tears and shared stories of Dad.
(above left) My sister Arlene's children Audi & Maggie Noble. Maggie with the Grand daughter Arlene never knew, Autumn.
(above right) Wayne Lehto, Joey Miller, Narisha Fox with Caleb, Evan Miller with Bryce, Katie Miller with Cash.
(above left) Joey Miller, with Jerry's wife Doreen.
(Right) My sister Ardie McMonigle with Doreen.
In both pictures above, my son Evan with Bryce and Jerry.
(left) Evan's daughter Jillian & Bryce
(right) My daughter Katie and Cash looking at pics of Dad over the years.
Finally Mom and Dad pull in and we gather at the door waiting to yell "Surprise!!!" Let me tell you, both of them were surprised. Mom knew about the party, but not about Jerry. I also got to photograph this. Trust me, I was in heaven.
While everyone was clean (before eating and other possible accidents) we went right out for the "Family Portrait" of a lifetime. There are soooo many variables in the portraits, of different groups with Mom and Dad, and I am sharing just a few with you. The weather was perfect, and the setting was beautiful. Kids were as patient as can be, and we were blessed to have us all together for this momentous day.
Sig and JoAnn Clark with Great Grand children.
from left to right.
Austin, Cash, Autumn, Jillian, Caleb, Bryce, Colby, Kaitlyn
Orie Noble, Audi Noble, Maggie Noble, Autumn Noble
(Left) My daughter Katie with her sons Austin (goofy) and Cash
(Right) My son Evan Miller with Jillian and Bryce
My son Joey Katie and Joey
(left) Ardie's boys Jesse, Casey, Ardie, Butch
(right) Jesse/Amy with Kaitlyn, Ardie, Butch, Casey/Narisha with Colby & Caleb
After the portraits were done, we went inside to eat and continue doing party things.
Above center is Wayne and I.
Above left & right is my favorite daughter in law (my only one) Jessie Miller. Her name was Jessie Miller before she married my son, so it was convenient that she didn't have to change her name. She is still Jessie Miller.
I'm proud to say my boys both love to play with children. Joey is eating Kaitlyn's toes, and Evan is showing Bryce the wonders of balloons.
Everyone took a moment to go down
Left- Dad blowing out a bonfire worth of candles
Center-Jerry and my best friend clear back from High school Margaret (she is married to Rick Christianson, who is one of the Christianson's who camped with us as kids)
Right- Haleigh (Margaret's Grand daughter) and Jill
I won't make you see all the pictures, but if you want to see more, click on the album above.
My daughter Katie had written a letter to my Dad, her much loved Grandfather. She had kind of meant to read it, but she knew she would never be able to speak thru her emotions.
My sister Arlene's daughter Maggie
read it instead, while Dad sat on the couch surrounded by his family. The letter talked about Katie's feelings for him and her respect and love, and how he returned that love to each and every one of us. It talked about having fear of letting him down, and how we all knew that surely from time to time we had let him down, but that he never ever showed it. She went on to say that she is sure she was speaking for all of us when she says that each and every one of us strives to make him proud and live up to him.
There was not a dry eye in the house as we all thought of the situations she described that fit so perfectly. He never let us down.
I am proud and honored to share with you, this day in our lives.