Dad’s birthday

Had he lived, my dad would being celebrating his 95th birthday today, Oct. 12. Well, I suppose we all would. Wish that were the case. He passed away in 1994.
When we were little Dad would tell us he was born at the same time Columbus was discovering America and we believed him.
My dad was a kidder. He enjoyed making people laugh, even if it was slightly inappropriate.
A farm boy with an 8th grade education and four years of fighting from island to island in the Pacific during World War II under his belt, he had little tolerance for anything he perceived pretentious, and he perceived a lot of things pretentious. Sometimes all it took was a few guys in suits and ties.
On the rare occasion Dad could not weasel his way out of attending such an event, say, a high school graduation, he’d prep for it by consuming a quart or two of Kaier’s beer. Then, during the guest speaker’s oration, he’d comment, just loud enough for a dozen or so folks around him to hear, “Get a load of this bull-shitter.”
The funny thing is every time I am called upon to speak in front of a group, which is fairly often, I think of Dad and wonder if he is watching from Heaven saying the same thing about me.
For as bad as this behavior sounds, my dad was an incredibly kind human being. He had boundless love for children and a way of charming them the minute they met him. He’d have a toddler bouncing on his knees and laughing almost the minute the tyke walked into our house. Even if the youngster had never met Dad before.
I have a way with babies myself and my dad gets all the credit.
As an old man Dad collected aluminum cans which he’d cash in for a few bucks at the recycling center. It became almost an obsession. Once, after a cookout at my house, he almost forgot to take his big bag of aluminum cans and dashed back to get them.
“What’s with the cans?” a friend of mine asked.
“I’m saving up to go to Hawaii,” Dad said and my friend began to laugh.
“You won’t be laughing when you see me getting on the plane in 20 years,” Dad said.
“I won’t even be alive in 20 years,” my mom chimed in.
“Who said I’m saving for two,” Dad responded.

Ed Ackerman