Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Into the wild, blue, freaked-out yonder with dear old Dad

Dad takes the helm
Next month my dad turns 70. Since he and my mom are too busy to celebrate next month (apparently retirement agrees with them), my siblings and I and the spouses and kids all descended last weekend for a little celebration. Since my poor dad got overlooked in all the Love Thursdaying of everyone else, it's his turn today.

When he was growing up, he wanted to be a pilot. He still has all his old flight plans and logbooks and even a leather jacket and one of those crazy leather helmet things. Eventually he learned that his eyesight wasn't good enough for him to fly professionally. He instead become a professor of education, specializing--starting way back in the '70s--in how teachers could use technology.

He always had fond memories of his flying days, so for their 40th wedding anniversary, my mom bought him some more lessons, which he took last fall. He still had some time left over when we showed up for his birthday, so he decided to take us all for a ride--with an instructor. My sister and I went up together. It may not be obvious from this picture (she's the one on the left, beaming!), but she was terrified.

Does he really know what he is doing?

Truth be told, my dad was terrified too. But he pulled it off.

Despite his successful career (the on-the-ground one), his true calling has always been music. He grew up in a musical family (we have a picture in which his dad, my grandfather, is playing a jug next to another guy playing a washboard) and became passionate about traditional (or Dixieland) jazz. In his 50 years as a banjo-player he has worked with dozens of bands across the country, recorded I don't know how many albums, and amassed a huge library of recordings and sheet music. Next month he'll be performing at jazz festivals in Oregon and Hungary.

I grew up going to see him perform and one of the bands he was in for many years played at my wedding. For the longest time--I must have been 10 or 11 before I got a clue--I thought that the style of music he played was all there was. I had no concept of contemporary or popular music because it was never, ever heard in our home. More on his music tomorrow.

I've heard that Chelsea Clinton once told the school nurse to "call my dad. My mom's too busy." I loved that quote because it reminded me of my own childhood. My dad was frequently the one who picked us up at school or took us to doctor's appointments, at a time when none of the other dads would ever do such a thing. When my brother and sister were in their last years of high school and my mom got a job in another state, Dad stayed behind so they wouldn't have to switch schools. His job as a professor was flexible so he was home a lot--so much that they used to tease him about whether he really was gainfully employed.

I love that he signs birthday cards "D.O.D."
I love that my son worships him.
I love that he still has his plaid, bell-bottom Christmas pants and wears them every year.
I love that he is extremely supportive of my mom's career.
I love that he calls the innermost underground part of his basement the Bat Cave.
I love that he saved the shredded, ragged bits of all three kids' security blankets.
I love that he's my dad.


Damselfly said...

Aw, what a wonderful dad you have. I love the thought of him playing in a jug band! How cool is that for him to be flying?

PS you and your sister look alike

scribbit said...

Hey we have a bat cave too! Of course it's also called the garage. But it sounds much cooler to tell the kids "to the Bat Cave!" when it's time for school rather than say "Go get in the car"

Your Dad sounds wonderful. Get him to guest blog sometime!

Karianna said...

Oooh! What a great dad!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Hey, this was wonderful!

My dad learned to fly too, once upon a time. But he is utterly tuneless. I can't imagine growing up in a house full of music, you must have loved it.

Where in Oregon is he going to play?

Mona said...

That wonderful creative spirit definitely rubbed off on his daughter. :)

mothergoosemouse said...

I know so much about your dad, and yet I've never met him. We'll have to change that sometime.

And I love that you paraphrased the first line of the Air Force Song in your title.

Mayberry said...

Jen (and anyone else in Oregon!): he'll be in Eugene. Which doesn't look to be so close to Bend, I guess.

jen said...

i love that he was your dad, too.

i agree w/ scribbit. guest blog.

Lady M said...

Hooray for great dads!

At first, I thought the close-up pic was of you and MotherGooseMouse!

MotherPie said...

That is a very sweet post. i think it is wonderful that you remember the time he took when you were younger and the sacrifices....

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Awwww...your dad sounds awesome. Loved reading about him!