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Exploring Human Potential

My Father Would Be 106 Tomorrow: Why I love him.

Posted on | December 3, 2020 | No Comments

Mike Magee

My father would be 106 tomorrow. Considering what we have endured as a people, as care givers, as human beings over the past four years, what I wrote about him six years ago bears repeating.

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My father was born on December 5, 1914. Today is his 100th Birthday. And although he died on September 15, 1998, and my mother some three years earlier while caring for him, there is rarely a day that goes by that I do not think of them.

What do I love about my father?

First and foremost, he loved my mother, and everything flowed from that. We kids understood that we were an extension of their love.

I loved his physical presence – that he was big and strong, that he embraced us, held us tight.

I liked that he taught me to whistle, which remains a useful skill.

I was proud that he took care of people as a job, and that the people who he took care of loved him so much.

I liked that every Christmas our dining table was full of baked goods that his patients gave him to thank him for his many kindnesses – giving them time, having open office hours day and night, making house calls when they were scared or worried.

I loved that he was honest, that he didn’t cheat or fudge, that he believed your name had to stand for something.

I loved that he was a gentleman and a gentle man.

I liked that he liked to build things, that he owned tools he rarely got to use, and that he’d get upset because we were always messing with his stuff.

I liked that he liked clothes, especially shoes. He liked to look good, and he wore clothes well.

I liked that he always had lots of change in his pockets.

I liked that he knew the owners of the local stores across the street by their first names.

I liked that he was patriotic and courageous. I learned after his death that he earned a Bronze Star on May 9, 1945. We never saw that medal or ever heard him talk about that day, ever.

I like that he was modest. He didn’t brag. He didn’t have to. I liked that.

I liked that he delegated. He and my mother expected us kids (there were 12 of us) to help teach each other skills like bike riding, and catching a ball, and climbing a tree.

I liked that he took risks, and wanted us to take risks as well – even though a few of those risks turned out to be unwise and too costly.

I liked that he wasn’t perfect – it meant we didn’t have to be perfect, but we did have to try, and we did have to be independent.

I liked that he was often watching in the background, a last stop before disaster, and that his intervention was usually at the direction of our mother.

I loved that the two of them were a team – and that we kids were the players.

I liked that he could take a hit, that he would never fall apart, no matter how bad things were, he would get up the next morning. Our father was reliable, consistent, upright, sturdy, alive.

I thought he was handsome. Others thought so too.

I loved that he was a family man.

I liked that he had a spiritual core – not because of his religious belief system, because his values were secure with or without religion. And not for any punitive conceit – hell rarely made it into our family’s consciousness. No, I liked his spiritual core because it signaled respect for a greater good, a directing hand, the capacity to endure, a reason to try to reach for the stars.

I love my father. He was such a good man. I have tried in some ways to be like him.

(…and, in the midst of this pandemic isolation…)

When I think of him, I always remember one evening, arriving home from college, coming through the door, and being greeted by him. He enveloped me in a big hug that night – tight, long – and kissed me on the cheek, and said my name. He was smiling. His eyes were alive and happy. I can smell him. I can feel his presence.

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