Happy Birthday, Dad!

My father turned 91 years old!

 

On Tuesday, April 13, 2010 my father will celebrate his 91st birthday.  He has lived a long and healthy life, and I am blessed to still have my father around.  He is not as fast on his feet as he once was and doesn’t hear so well, but there is nothing to indicate he won’t still be around for awhile—especially since my mother is a youthful 81 year old lady who loves and cares for him very well.  He has lived longer than most of his contemporaries, and was once heard lamenting a “mistake” he made by outliving most of the people who might attend his funeral.  (I think he can be forgiven this error.)  He won’t say it out loud, but he will be hoping family and friends will visit.  I would like to do something more.  On this special day, I wish to offer a small tribute to my father. 

My father's life in pictures

Washing his feet
Washing his feet
Military service
Military service
Family man and business owner
Family man and business owner
Gardener
Gardener
Dad with a feline friend
Dad with a feline friend
A nice portrait
A nice portrait
My father's family
My father's family
Blowing out birthday candles a few years ago
Blowing out birthday candles a few years ago
Dad and me
Dad and me

A tribute to my Dad

 

He was born in 1919 on Palm Sunday.  He was the third of five children and was the only boy.  He was raised on a farm, and the hard work that greeted him each day made him strong and determined.  He fashioned a powerful work ethic that served him throughout his entire life.

He was drafted into the Army and fought in Europe during World War II.  He was proud to be a soldier and serve his country, although he certainly would have preferred not to go to war.  His discharge papers were framed and hang on his bedroom wall.  If you came to his home for a visit, he would retrieve the framed papers from his room to offer you a better look at them.   

When he returned to the United States, he married my mother and started a family.  I was the youngest of their three children, with an older sister and brother.  To meet the responsibilities of raising a family, he started a moving business named “Hank’s Delivery”.  He borrowed money to buy four trucks and hired a staff.  He went to the city newspaper and bought large sheets of newsprint to use for packing materials.  I remember paper stacked several feet high on the floor of the garage.  He allowed my brother and me to take sheets from the stack and draw on them.  We spread sheets on the hardwood floors and drew, planting the seeds for a love of art that I would always possess.  His service was a simple one but he ran it well, and it earned him a decent living.  He enjoyed his job and kept the business until he was too old to personally move furniture and appliances.  When he could no longer do the work himself, owning the business didn’t appeal to him.

My parents lived in a small three bedroom ranch style house in Lawrence, Kansas.  When the family needed more room, he helped with the construction of a garage and extra bedroom himself.  The neighborhood was new, and they were the original (and over fifty years later, still the only) occupants of the house.  It was a typical working-class neighborhood except that behind them loomed Memorial Park Cemetery.  Memorial Park gained notoriety as the final resting place for James Naismith, the man who invented basketball. 

The strength and work ethic that life on a farm instilled in him served him well.  He worked long hours to send us to a private grade school where we received a superior education.  There was plenty to eat, and he made certain we had toys and games and books.  He took us on family vacations to see the beauty of the country we lived in.  We were not wealthy, but he spent very little on himself.  He was strong for us and concealed whatever fears he carried with him.  Despite his tough countenance, there was also a tender side to him willing to show how much he loved and cared for his family.  You never wanted to make him angry, but there was a gentle aspect to his nature that tempered the formidable presence he carried himself with.

My earliest memories of my father include seeing him in bowling shirts.  He bowled in a league on Wednesday nights, and I noticed his name sewn on shirts that seemed vaguely like military uniforms to my untrained eye.  He looked strong and powerful with thick, muscular arms.  When he returned at night from bowling, he would lie on his bed and read the evening newspaper.  I frequently wandered into the bedroom and lay down beside him.  Sometimes he read the comics to me.  We didn’t usually talk much.  I just stayed on the bed beside him while he read.  It was relaxing and comforting for me.

Dad was pleased when I developed an interest in sports, and we frequently discussed football and basketball.  I sat in the living room with him when the Kansas City Chiefs won their only Super Bowl title in 1969.  I was there again when KU’s basketball team won their third NCAA championship in 2008.  It brings a tear to my eye when he admits he likes to watch games most of all when I come over.

The years passed and he helped with college tuition and purchasing automobiles.  He vacationed each summer in Colorado to fish in the mountains, and sometimes I accompanied him.  Eventually his children moved away, and he retired from work.  He spent every spring and summer for the next decade gardening on a half-acre of land near the Kansas River.  He sold vegetables to the local produce store and gave away many more tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers.  The humble farmer’s life was still in his blood. 

 

A life of hard work, love and caring is honored today


It is fascinating to observe how time changes one’s perspective. His home is comfortable and he has the things he needs. If you ask what he might like for a birthday gift, he will think for a moment and then suggest a black shirt. (He has more black shirts than Johnny Cash ever had.) The gifts are appreciated but not necessary, and he will accept whatever you give him graciously. Elderly people are very humble and so thankful for your consideration. They are masters at appreciating the moment—those precious times with family and friends that allow them to forget about their aches and pains for awhile. He is grateful for company and quick to express his pleasure at seeing you again.

He will look for visitors on his birthday, and I have arranged to go out for dinner in the evening. At the conclusion of our outing, he will ask when I’m coming back again. He’ll encourage me to visit any time I want, and to let him know if I need anything.

I will, Dad. Happy birthday.


Comments 40 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Mike - you made a mistake. You called this hub a small tribute to your dad and it's really a beautiful tremendous tribute to him. Well-written and heartfelt.

Wish him happy birthday for me. You are a lucky man and so is he.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

A beautiful tribute Mike and Happy Birthday to your dad.

So, you are the baby of the family. I admire your parents and absolutely love the fact that they still have that strong love bond, after all those years and wish them many more happy years.

Thanks for sharing the photo's too.

Best Wishes.


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

Happy Birthday and Congratulations on your hub! My dad passed away when I was 27 years old. He was my hero and it felt like the world just swallowed me whole when he passed. It left a huge hole in our family. I am happy to have your memory to share. Thank you for writing this!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

drbj, thanks for reading, and I appreciate your kind comments about my hub. I am lucky and grateful to have my father still be alive, and I am hoping he will be here for many birthdays to come.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Elena, thanks for reading. Yup, Mike is the baby of the family! I was eager to take the opportunity here to say happy birthday to my father, and I'm glad to have you here to read my words.

Thanks again, Elena. I greatly appreciate your comments.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

mwatkins, thanks for your comments. I am extremely lucky to have had my father in my life for so long, and I am very grateful. It doesn't matter how long he has lived--when his time comes, I will always wish he could have lived a few years more. But, I will always recognize how lucky I have been.

Thanks so much for your comments. I greatly appreciate your stopping by.

Mike


kowality profile image

kowality 6 years ago from Everywhere

Right from the heart Mike! Thank You for sharing your Pa with us.

Much Love!

Happy Birthday Dad.


Lecie 6 years ago

i liked this hub the best. great work showing us how much you care for your father. i have to say that i'm jealous of you. my father, being a severe alcoholic, isn't half the father that you have. i really wish your family the best. hope he does stay around alot longer. we need more good people on earth.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Nice Hub I wrote one 'Born on April 13' as my wife and one of my brothers was born April 13. Nice to see they are in such good company, a lovely tribute Mike.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

So Sweet and what a gift to your dad for he is now immortal on the internet forever!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

kowality, thank you for helping me honor my father with your kind words! I greaty appreciate your reading!

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lecie, thank you for your kind and touching words. I was extremely lucky to have such a kind and hard-working man for a father. I will never forget how fortunate I am.

Thanks again, Lecie. I appreciate your kindness.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

billyaustindillon (can I call you Billy?), thanks for your comments. April 13th sounds like a significant day for you, as well. I hope it was a good one, my friend. Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Janny! Thanks for reading. I never really thought about it that way, but you're right--I gave him a little Internet immortality for his birthday! Pretty cool!

Thanks for stopping by, Janny. I appreciate it.

Mike


SusanAdele profile image

SusanAdele 6 years ago

Mike.. what a wonderful tribute to your Dad. God has given him a long and beautiful life. My parents were both born in 1919. Unfortunately, my Mom died in 1981,and I miss her daily. My Dad left us when I was 16 and have never heard from him since. You are truly blessed to have both your parents with you. No need to tell you, I can tell from your Hub, you enjoy every moment you have with them. I often think about how I would love to go visit with Mom again.

Happy Birthday to your Dad! God bless.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan, thanks for your kind comments. God has indeed given my father a long life, and he has learned well to cherish each moment. I have yet to learn what it feels like to truly miss my parents, and I have no desire to learn how that feels anytime soon. I suspect your Mom is with you in spirit--not the same thing, but still nice.

Thanks again for your comments--and your kindness.

Mike


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Very nice tribute to Dad! Happy Birthday Dad! *belated!!!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty! You're back! I missed ya! I hope you're doing okay these days. And, thank you for the belated birthday wishes. My father had a very nice day.

Mike


AEvans profile image

AEvans 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Happy Birthday! To a man who is 91 years young, Thank you so much for serving our Country my father also served in WWII and I am very proud of my dad! I hope that your father has another 20 years heck that would be a blessing and the way he is going he certainly will.

You are also a great son for honoring your father in such a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing him with us, brings back memories for me with my father. :)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Aevans, thanks for your kind words. I wouldn't mind another 20 years or so with my father. I mean, why not?

It is also nice to recognize folks who served in WWII for their sacrifice. What they did was amazing and needs to be remembered forever. Both of our fathers were heroes.

Thanks so much for your kind words, I am grateful.

Mike


AEvans profile image

AEvans 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

If you believe you may never know how long God will keep him by your side, you have been blessed this long. The people who served during WWII certainly were heroes, I am honored as a daughter to have a father who fought for our Country and flew the flag with honor all of the time. He certainly instilled what it meant to be an American in all of us. :)


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

I envy you so, my dad died at 72, he also fought in Europe in WWII, my Mom now is 86 in a nursing home, about the 4th and instead of rehab they just slowly are murdering her and I can do nothing about it. Didn't mean to be depressing about your parents just warning you, keep them as long as you can, I'd give anything to have mine back and do what you know in your heart is right don't listen to what sounds right to someone else.I wasn't born until awhile after my dad came home from the war and he never mentioned it but Mom told me a couple of really horrible things. I am happy for you. I came to hubs for a sort of therapy and it has helped. I did My Mother's Daffodils here for Mom, hope to go see her in a few days. Hug and love them every day while you can.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Aevans, thanks for returning. I appreciated your comments about our fathers and the soldiers who fought in WWII very much. Because it has now been so long ago and we have seen a few more wars since, I think sometimes the contributions our fathers made to our freedoms gets forgotten or overlooked by folks in the US. Their sacrifices need to be remembered and celebrated. We can all be proud of what they did for us.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Pollyannalana, thanks for your comments. They are not depressing, but they are very sobering. My father's sister and her husband both died in a nursing home within the last year, and it was indeed sad to see. I know the homes serve a function, but it is still a very sad place to go for a visit with the elderly. I think my aunt was plotting an escape at one point.

WWII had its horror stories without question, and it is not surprising that your father was reluctant to share what happened. In those days there was less concern for the psychological effects war has on soldiers--everyone did what they were supposed to do, and when they returned home they were expected to simply resume their lives. As we have seen since, it often is not that easy.

I am glad you have found benefit to writing and interacting on HubPages, it is a very positive and supportive network of people. I'm glad I found your articles, also--you really know your music!

I hope you enjoy your time with your mother. I know she appreciates it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

Mike


susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Sending out a Happy Birthday wish too! This was just a touching and deep reaching story about your dad. Sometimes being the youngest is not always easy. My husband was the youngest of many brother's and sister's and he said the hand me down clothes were a big turn off for him growing up. Mike, I love the picture of your dad and the watermelon. Great hub with loving thoughts. Good job Mike.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan, thanks so much for your comments. I understand perfectly the distaste for hand-me-down clothes. I shared it, although I eventually got used to it. It was actually kind of amusing--when I got older, I actually found myself wearing my older brother's clothes again as an adult. I recall him giving me a suit he couldn't fit into anymore, and I wore it for awhile.

I guess some things never change.

Thanks for your comments, and for the kind birthday wishes for my father. They are both greatly appreciated.

Mike


cosette 6 years ago

what a heartwarming tribute to a wonderful man. thank you for sharing him with us. may he have many more happy birthdays :)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Cosette, thanks for the kind wishes. My Dad had a great birthday, and we hope to keep him around for lots more!

Thanks again!

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Mike,

give you dad a big birthday hug for me. My dad was a very quiet and sensitive man. he didn't talk much either, but was always willing to hug his little girl. Time does change our perspective; I have seen it in my parents life as well as my own. Things that used to matter just pale in significance to the four things I now hold so very dear, God, Family, Freedom and time to enjoy them all..thanks for this hub it was delightful


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Coffesnob, thanks for your comments. The four things you hold dear are what makes life meaningful, and I am grateful to have been able to have my parents in my life for as long as I have. I found your own tribute to your father to be very touching.

I will give my Dad a hug for you.

Mike


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Oh my Goodness what a heartfelt tribute, it is my birthday april 26, tomorrow and we have the same sign Taurus. He is a good man and a tree always bear a nice fruit. Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, thanks for reading. I hope you have a great birthday, and may you live to be at least 91 years old yourself. Have a great day!!!!

Mike


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

What a lovely tribute to your dad. He seems like a man of great character. I'm glad you appreciate him so much. I can tell you are a good son and have honored him well.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

lovelypaper, thanks so much for your comments. Family means a great deal to me, and I am very proud of my parents. I appreciate your comments so very much.

Mike


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

What a wonderful tribute to your dad! Bless every day you have with him.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Habee, thank you so much. From your own hubs I know you understand the importance of family in our lives. My father is indeed a treasure and each day he is with us is indeed a blessing. Thanks again.

Mike


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

This was a great read, I only wish I had known my father better, the last time I saw him he was putting blocks on the pedals of the new bike he bought me for my 10th birthday, I didn't get to see him until 14 years later. He passed away in a hospital bed at the age of 72 not a well man. Every boy needs a father figure and fortunately I found mine in another man I write about in my hub "The boy from the bottom of the hill" Thank you Mike for sharing this beautiful story and may your Dad live well into his hundred's it's becoming more possible now.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Saddlerider, thanks for your comments. Every body does indeed need a father figure. In reading so many of the comments offered in response to this hub, it is clear how lucky I am to have had my father in my life and live so long. He is doing very well, and I hope to be writing a hub about his 100th birthday, also.

Thanks again for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.

Mike


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

A great tribute to you father Mike, he sounds like he has lived quite the life. I especially can empathize with the retirement gardening, that sounds like a decade of heaven to me! Glad to hear you and your Dad have a mutual connection.

Ben


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Ben. Thanks for reading. My Dad loved to garden, and he enjoyed the home grown vegetables--especially tomatoes. He would put out 350 tomato plants each spring, which was--well, a lot. I know he misses it, and I certainly miss the fresh food. My father has lived a good life and has a lot to be proud of. Thanks again for reading.

Mike

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