Today my father would have been 102 years old. His birthday is one I never forgot, but seldom celebrated because he was away during the Korean war or at work like any other day for the rest of his life. He was happy to get a pair of socks, maybe a really bad Christmas album, or bowl of fruit. He had few needs or wants. He has been gone now for over three decades, and if I have regrets it was not quizzing him enough about his boyhood, his service in World War II and Korea, how he earned two bronze stars, and why he had such an aversion to guns. He was not unique in that regard, his generation seldom talked about the “War,” or what they did in it.
His memory reminds me to pay more attention to the time you have with someone and to try and find out more about them. I was always too busy to ask about his parents who I never knew, to ask about his living with his grandparents and why he left the Catholic church. He played football on some of the great Tennessee teams in the late 30’s and early forties, but we never compared our football days. Most importantly, I never knew his dreams.
He loved his children, and his grandchildren even more, and I’m sure his great grandchildren would be the apples of his eye, but time took him away way too early.
On his birthday, I am always reminded that every person on earth has a story full of fun, mystery, and surprises, and that we owe it to each and every one of them to learn their story. I wish I knew more about my own father’s.