My dad recently turned 70, which is nothing to shake a stick at.
I’m only 43, but I wouldn’t be 43 if he wasn’t 70. I wouldn’t exist if he didn’t. My existence is possible and made better because of his — it’s always been that way.
70 years is a long time. I remember math classes at John Glenn High School feeling like they were 70 years long, especially since lunch came next. And, speaking of math class, I should mention that Dad and I went to the same high school. Not at the same time, mind you, but close enough to end up having a few of the same teachers. I once asked my gym teacher if he remembered by dad. I didn’t even mention his name, yet Coach Lusk studied my face for a second and piped up “Yeah — you’re Davidson’s kid, aren’t ya?” to which I grimaced, unsure of what would follow. He stared at me for a few seconds and then had us run more laps. Did I spark the gym teacher fury or did he think I needed more exercise? Probably both.
Before my first day at John Glenn, dad drove me around the exterior of the building and pointed out where stuff was: the cafeteria, the pool, the gyms, library, the place they used to let students smoke. He pointed out the stadium bleachers and the space under the bleachers, too. Lots of giggling from him at that point.
My grades plummeted in Junior High, so dad took me for a walk in a field and gave it to me straight: it’s not an option to fail school. I had to do my homework, do it right, and turn it in. I wasn’t scared, but I knew he meant business. In fact, I was never scared of my dad, but I did listen and take him seriously. Still do. I passed, not with flying colors but certainly in vivid greyscale, which is why I graduated from (our) high school years later.
Just about everything he’s figured out so far in his 70 years he’s passed down to me. Not all of it has stuck, but that’s not his fault. The rules of backgammon still escape me. However, most of what I know about stuff — from swinging a hammer to talking with just about anybody — originate in his life lessons. These Bobby Foundationals are the essentials on which everything else is built.
I still call and ask about the challenges. He’s always got something, even if it’s only a listening ear. Most of the time, that’s what I need, anyway. I just now asked him about a phrase I used above: “shake a stick at”. I figured he’d know, being 70 and all. Of course, I could’ve googled it, but that’s an option I’ll always have. Instead, I asked him and he googled it, but only to confirm what he already knew. As for the origin of the phrase, he gathers it has something to do with a wasp nest. Sounds good to me.
He’s 70 — and that’s nothing to shake a stick at.
I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday.