Yesterday, October 30, we celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday. As a gift we 5 kiddos presented him with a frame and message from each of us that has me thinking about the things we have come to learn about my dad as adults. When you are growing up you assume there are just guaranteed truths if you follow “the plan” (whatever that is right??). Become an adult, choose a career, find a job, get married, own a house, add a couple of kids and live happily ever after. Now that we are here, we all realize the incredible blessings we have experienced that are in large thanks to Dad’s hardworking spirit and commitment to his family. The ones that come top of mind are 30 years at his job, a marriage that is rooted in true partnership, putting 5 kiddos through Catholic school and successful programs post -high school, and owning homes that are the setting for countless memories – these things aren’t just acquired they are achieved.
Now that we know it takes a whole heck of a lot of work and a number of years to get to this point in life – we all are wondering if we too can do it? Will we find the career path that will speak to our skill set and be a way to support our lives? Is it possible to build a strong marriage in a world where divorce is a 50/50 possibility? Is parenthood a calling we can share with the same success? Can we create the same homes that invite true life to happen amongst the walls? These questions all really boil down to just one final question: How did he do it?
One of the more impressive aspects of my dad is his career. 30 years and he is still going strong at the same association with just as much passion and excitement as when he started! He is a great leader and has perfected the ability to balance the focus on big picture and the little details. Dad is talented at assembling a strong and dedicated staff, with the added blessing of so many of them choosing to work for him over the course of many years. I have been lucky enough to follow in his footsteps in the same industry, benefitting greatly from his wisdom and experience, yet when I think of what I have learned from my dad, the boss, there is one thing that always comes to mind. In high school, when interning at his office, one of the staff asked me if I knew why my Dad was such a great boss. I thought for a moment and tried to pin point the thing she must have been referencing. I suppose my delayed reaction pressed her to interrupt my thoughts with “it is really something so simple: every instruction from him – even on a post it – comes with a please and thank you.” Dad has had many great successes and a lot of tough moments throughout his professional life, but it really comes down to the simple concept: treat others with respect and always be kind.
The idea of having kids is terrifying for no shortage of 1 million reasons and somewhere on the list is the fear of having a child you can’t relate to. Your a sports nut and your kiddo will prefer to conduct his own science experiments. You love getting dressed up and feeling like a prissy girl, but you could have a daughter who prefers to rough and tumble with the boys. Sure these differences are just a part of life, but what if they rock the foundation of your relationship and affect the ability for a healthy future? What will you do? To be 100% fair I have no idea what my dad pictured about his future kids. We know he grew up playing sports and being very social – but we never knew what it is he had envisioned for us. Probably because Dad didn’t have time to share his dreams, he was too busy supporting ours. Dad has been an impressive dance Dad setting up and breaking down dance sets and logging hours at dance competitions with Brig all the way through high school. Not sure he had a lot of down time, when reading “how to play lacrosse for dummies” since he was going to coach Katy’s Lacrosse team who was without a leader. Or when investing in a whole lot of new canoeing and camping equipment to adventure with Grant, could he really stop and focus on what his preferred entertainment might be? It didn’t matter what he thought his parenting journey might be when he sat in the auditorium sharing the same last name of the play’s lead over the course of several showings of Sawyer’s productions. And finally when he watched his daughter want to share her life on the internet – in a way that made no sense to him and potentially appeared to be dangerous -he eventually stopped asking questions and just became an avid reader of HALF. We have no idea what Dad would have anticipated when we all came into this world – but we did learn that it never really matter what he wanted – he was gonna be there for us, always.
Finally one of the best gifts my father has ever given to me was the lesson in how to be a friend. My earliest childhood heart to hearts with my dad are on the lessons of friendship, including: “If you want a friend, you have to be a friend”. Those conversations of course have changed the trajectory of my life by finding good friends to walk the long roads with. Now after years of practicing how to be good friend, I love that my Dad has come to be a friend to all of our friends. “Big Jer” has been a title Dad received from one of my college roommates, and recently I heard a friend to my sister’s fiancé use it! Everyone has come to know and love our Dad: Big Jer because he is the guy who always takes a moment to ask about them or remember a tidbit about their families or jobs. To no surprise, these people that are such a big and important part of our lives, have come to also matter to our Dad.
There are countless other stories and memories I could share about my Dad, these are just a few that have come to mind this year as we cheers to him being 60! Dad – thank you for being such an important person in my life and I can’t tell you how many moments I have cherished when reflecting on both growing up and adulthood. Your dedication, enthusiasm, and generosity is incredibly impressive – especially when it comes to your 5 kiddos. We are honored to be your family and grateful to celebrate this milestone with you! Looking forward to the many more moments to come.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!