Today would have been my father's 103rd birthday. Sadly, he missed his 65th birthday by a month, succumbing to devastating injuries from a fall.
If the world could be divided between the givers and the takers my father would have been a giver. His life was defined by acts of giving. He was everybody's friend -- scrupulously honest, immensely practical, wryly humorous. He loved people. Each year, he and a group from our town would travel to Vermont to take in a county fair; much of the time there we would sit on a hill and watch people pass by. He was fascinated by the wide variety of people he would see. He was a home building contractor and he never had a written contract -- a sincere handshake was his commitment. In all his years in business, only one person tried to take advantage of him; rather than being angered, he found the situation humorous. To my knowledge, there was only one person who he detested, a lowlife in our town who had repeatedly sexually abused his daughter.
A Yankee to the core, he was a die-hard Republican who tolerated his liberal sons. I can only imagine what he would say about our current president, a man who is the diametric opposite of everything my father believed in.
When my father died, the outpouring of love was amazing and we heard many stories of the kindness he had done that we knew nothing of. He was a modest person who felt that one was put on this earth to help others.
This coming Thursday is the birthday of our oldest girl. She decided to celebrate her big day with ax throwing. (That is evidently a thing.) So nine of us headed off to the ax throwing place (there evidently are such places) to throw axes at a bull-eye target on a wall*. It turns out there are three rules to ax throwing: 1) take an ax; 2) throw it; and 3) leave with as many toes as you had when you entered. While we were ax throwing I could not help but think how much my father would have enjoyed this. It would definitely be a step up above horseshoes (which he liked).
I have often felt that if I could be just half the person he was, I would be a success as a human being. I'm still working at this. And he is still guiding me. His strength and his laughter have never left me.
* Seven-year-old Jack ended up being the champion ax thrower. Grandson Mark and I came in second. Christina closely followed us. Everyone else made noble efforts.