Happy 70th Birthday Dad!

Wow, that’s weird to say because sadly he died 10 years ago at the age of 59.  He didn’t even get to see 60!

It’s days like today that I miss him the most though. 

Growing up my dad was an artist and mainly worked at home (and consequently, rarely left the house!).  So he was always there.  He wasn’t the Dad who went on business trips, or the Dad that routinely worked late in the office.  He was our number 1 fan!

Because he worked his own schedule, going to my brother’s track events, my sister’s pom-pom competitions (those were grueling 10 hour days: (“so your two events are at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., but we need to be their by 6:00 a.m. to wait until 9:00 p.m. to find out if your team won??!!) and my FIELD HOCKEY games (which were action packed!) he was always there, camera over his neck.

Every year he would come to the last day of school and take pictures of us, our friends and teachers.  Well by high school, we thought that would not be cool.  Wouldn’t you know it, all our friends looked around our last day of freshman year and asked “so where’s your Dad with his camera?”

Because he mainly took all the pictures, there are not a lot of pictures of him.  But when he did pose for a picture, he would give you this standard “cheese” smile – it never felt genuine.

But this one is!  We were vacationing in Nags Head, North Carolina, and he had just gotten flipped by a wave.  I think this has to be one of my favorite pictures of him!


But my fondest memories are the times he spent with my daughter.  I was a single mom the first 8 years of Hannah’s life.  I ended up moving in with my parents “for a year” but it ended up being 5 years!

When Poppy took a nap, Hannah took a nap!

When Poppy took a nap, Hannah took a nap!

In any event, I wouldn’t trade those five years for anything, for they were the last five years of his life.  If you thought that his love of his children was overwhelming, well you didn’t see the Hannah and Poppy bond! 

My most vivid memories of that time were weekend breakfasts.  As soon as Hannah was able to walk, she’d get out of bed, walk downstairs and immediately go sit on Poppy’s lap.  He’d read her the paper, they would draw, make hats out of the newspaper, share each others toast.  I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of the two of them like this, and since it was breakfast, my Dad would be in his bathrobe.  After showing some of these pictures to my co-workers, they asked: “Does he ever get dressed?”

My father was diabetic as well.  I wasn’t diagnosed until around 2000, but it would kill him if he knew.  But because of watching his “mistakes” I think I am a healthy diabetic.  He basically ate anything he wanted and would “cover” it with more insulin.  I’d routinely open the bread box, only to pull out a Dunkin Donuts apple fritter.  His reply “how did that get in there?”

I’ll never forget one morning, Hannah was about three, and she had gotten up around 6:00 a.m. and she and I were in the living room watching Little Mermaid (for the billionth time!) when my Dad walked down the stairs, in his underwear ONLY (that just never happened!) and immediately went into the kitchen and sat down.

I followed him in only to see his eyes glazed over.  I immediately took his blood sugar and it was 25!!!!  So I get some orange juice, but its just pouring out of his mouth, he can’t swallow it.  So while Hannah wakes up Nana and my mom calls 911, I finally find a Hershey bar that has no nuts, so I just start shoving the chocolate in his mouth and help him chew.  At this point I was hoping the sugar would just somehow absorb into his system!

But a few minutes later, the paramedics arrived and started a glucose drip and 15 minutes later he starts to come around.  Then all of a sudden, he licks his lips and says “why does my mouth taste like chocolate?”  I was so thankful that happend on a weekend and not a week day when we would have already left the house!

But it was cancer that took him in the end.  He was a multi-pack smoker for most of his life.  He never thought he smoked much, because he said he would light one up, set it down, start drawing, and then the next thing he’d look down and there would only be one drag left, so he’d light another one.

But the funny thing is that he and my mom had BOTH stopped smoking 10 years earlier, but the damage was already done.

He died at home, with his family around him.  At the wake all these people came up to me and said “your Dad would just light up a room as soon as he walked in!”  He was the forever joke teller and would give you his last shirt off of his back if you needed it.

I admit though, growing up, I didn’t think of my Dad as successful.  He had marginal success as an artist, although he was good.  He even went back to school to learn about restaurant management because someday he wanted to open up his own restaurant. 

But in the end, who cares how much money is in your bank account, how big your house is, or what car you drive.

In the end its that you were loved and loved back – and that was definitely the case with my Dad!   Happy Birthday!

So if your Dad is still alive, go give him an extra kiss from me.

25 thoughts on “Happy 70th Birthday Dad!

  1. This was sweet. I am sorry for your loss, but am also happy you are able to remember him in such a kind, loving way on his birthday. I will give my dad a hug today!

  2. Such a touching post. May your memories of him live on forever.

  3. Biz, I know how hard it is on those days when you can’t help but think of your dad, and he’s not there. I, too, lost my dad too soon. It was almost 11 years ago, and I had just turned 22 and lived across the country, about to get married. It was heart disease. He was 49. I still think of him on his birthday, calculating how old he’d be. This July he’d have been 60. I wish we could have had a big party for him on that day, you know?

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. Did you get through the 20 minutes? How did it go? I did my 20 minutes straight through (slow and steady). DH was home, since I switched to Saturdays for my third day, so he was there in case I hurt something or fell. LOL But it was great, no problems. I’m looking forward to the next two “easier” workouts before the 25-minute run at the end of the week. Yikes!

    Have a great Sunday! ~Shannan

  4. By the way, I love that picture of your dad on the beach! It’s great.

  5. Hey Shannon – I didn’t end up running because when I went to the fitness center, the deaf guy was on one treadmill, and there are only 2, so I ended up doing elliptical. I’ll try again tomorrow!


  6. What a beautiful tribute to you Dad! From the way you described him, you have alot of him in you! Your enthusiam for life and your very warm concern for others! And from the great picture, it seems you may even look like him.

  7. Thanks MIL – I wished you could have met him!

  8. Wow…. I dont even know what to say right now, Im too busy wiping tears from my eyes. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I feel for anyone who has lost their father. My dad was taking away from me when I was only 12. He had a heart attack in his sleep and it was too late by the time I found him. Even though he his gone, the memories will keep him alive forever. I can see you feel the same. Loosing someone so important is painful. I love that you can bring him to life again through his lovely memory.

  9. I can’t believe I missed this post Friday and by the time I looked today, it had rolled off the front page.

    I once asked Rachel two or three years ago if she remembered Poppy. She said she did. (She would have only been two at the time.) So I asked what she remembered about him. “Well, I remember he wore a bathrobe.” (She would have only seen him during the cancer treatment.) “And I remember he had a spot on his head,” she said, circling her own head with her index finger. (Meaning a bald spot.)

    I had no idea about that low blood sugar story, Beth. As frightening as that episode was, I had to laugh out loud today at the line, “Why does my mouth taste like chocolate.”

    Thanks for the post…

  10. […] For those of you who may be new readers to my blog, check out this post about my Dad. […]

  11. I actually lost my Grammy this morning, which is really difficult for me b/c we were close. Thanks for this beautiful post! It helps me to realize that others experience great losses and continue life with fond memories of their loved one. Also, coincedentally I grew up and lived 18 years on the Outer Banks of NC! How funny that picture is from Nags Head – just 10 minutes from my parents’ house! 🙂

  12. Christina – so sorry about your Grammy! My grandma’s name was Grammy too!

  13. […] My Mom has spent the better part of four months scouring over home photographs.  Um, turns out my Dad liked to take a few pictures!!   She put together a box for me, my sister and brother.  What surprised me the most was […]

  14. What a touching tribute. I need to call my dad today.

  15. This is so sweet – thank you for sharing him, Biz – I feel like I’ve gotten to know your dad. What a great man…I’m sorry for your loss.

  16. […] at my Mom’s house yesterday, I grabbed some of my Dad’s artwork.  You can see my tribute post to my Dad here.  Back in 1985 he decided to come up with a comic strip – one of his artist idols was […]

  17. We always made the best paper hats =)

  18. […] I miss my Dad on holiday’s like this – if your papa is still around, give him an extra hug for me!  Happy Father’s Day Tony! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Good friends, good food, good music – GREAT WEATHER!It’s Time to Get Serious. . .Perfect Nightjury duty – day 1 […]

  19. […] And Happy Birthday to my Dad.  If he were still alive, he would have been 72 years old today!  I did a tribute to his 70th birthday – you can meet him here. […]

  20. […] I can’t complain one bit.  So you know that my Dad had cancer, my husband had cancer and my brother had cancer.  Well, my cousin Pam has cancer.  Pam […]

  21. […] I almost forgot!  Today would have been my Dad’s 74th birthday if he was still alive!  You can read about his 70th birthday on this tribute post. SharePrint & PDFStumbleUponMorePrint Posted in […]

  22. […] grew up with.  Every time I make it, I am taken back to my parents kitchen and have visions of my Dad stirring this […]

  23. […] death.  I can’t believe he’s been gone that long already.  You can “meet” him here.  Miss you […]

  24. Biz, sounds like you have lot of your dad in you. the Tumor especially. The warmth, even more so. and your blog is creative, so you must have a creative gene somewhere. What a great dad. He would be so proud of you!

  25. […] know I’ve talked about it in a long ago post, but my Dad’s dream was to always sail on a sailboat.  So much so that he created a replica of the boat that […]

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