Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy birthday, Daddy

Taken by Peter Stewart
Tomorrow, April 25, would have been my dad's ninety-fifth birthday. He only lived long enough to enjoy his sixty-second, passing away of a massive heart attack in July 1979. That's a long time ago now. Pete, my brother-in-law who took this picture, died himself last year. That's Norma Jean standing behind Daddy, long hair cascading down her back. Now it's short and has a lot of gray in it, but she's still on this side of the grass.

Looking at this picture brings back such memories. You wouldn't know it from this picture, but Daddy was a morning person. I wonder what was going through his mind as he was making his coffee to take to work. It must have been the period after he retired from the Air Force and was working at General Dynamics, but I'm not sure, since I was out living my own life and wasn't around much during this time. But when I look at this picture, I project my own existential meaning into a thought balloon over his head: a rather melancholy reverie wondering what it's all about, the inevitable march of days, years, decades, with little imperceptible changes adding up to huge life changes.

My parents had seven children, me being the oldest. I'm turning seventy this year, and Mama has been gone for almost twenty years now. My son Chris, gone almost ten years. All of my parents' children are alive today, except for Tina Maria who was born prematurely and never had a chance to live at all. I was thinking that if I was able to have a nice chat with Daddy, he might wonder what's been going on down here.

It would take volumes to tell him everything, but there are a few things I would tell him if I could. First and foremost, thank you, and Mama too, for giving me the opportunity to have had such a rich and varied life. You would have loved what has happened in the world of electronics. I remember when you built yourself a television from scratch (or maybe it was a Heathkit). You loved all things electronic, and the blogosphere, the World Wide Web, is a real entity that would have sounded like science fiction while you were alive. I now have two blogs which I use to keep my writing life alive, to reminisce like I'm doing now, as well as to chronicle the wonderful existence I am experiencing in retirement.

Norma Jean and I use video chat to keep in touch a few times a week. Remember when I was a kid and we watched an old program called Believe It Or Not that projected a future world? I remember it said that by the Year 2000 we would have Dick Tracy-type wrist watches that would allow us to communicate face to face. Well, you would have to see today's iPhone to believe it! What a difference it makes to be able to laugh and share with Norma Jean virtually while we are on opposite ends of the country. Yes, you would have loved all the video advances.

I think you would also be proud of all that your children have accomplished. Although we are all as different as most family members tend to be, we all share some traits that can be traced directly back to you and Mama: we are all hard workers, skilled at our jobs and able to make ethical decisions that impact our chosen fields positively. You have dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We have all been good parents and remember you and Mama with infinite fondness.

So, Daddy, I wish you happy happy birthday! Your memory will never fade from my heart as long as I live, you can count on that.


  1. This is beautiful. I needed to read it, because I was just thinking about backing away from all this technology and letting it go, but I think you helped me remember what's good about it - keeping in touch and staying connected.

    The photo of your dad is a treasure.

  2. This was truly beautiful, Djan! My dad is 91, survived hip surgery last year, and is doing well. He reads my blog every day. He and my mom have a cell phone. My dad loves technology! I'm sure your dad would have been delighted to be a part of it and very proud of all of you!! :):)

  3. smiles...happy birthday to your dad...some fun memories there...the iphone, yeah that is pretty close to some of those old shows...i remember some of the catoons of the future...

  4. Birthdays bring back memories and in your case good memories and also a bit of history.

  5. This is a nice tribute to your father, who must be chuckling in heaven right now. It is too bad he didn't live to see all of these really cool inventions.

  6. Such a beautiful tribute to your dear Dad, Djan. I'm sure he would be very, very proud of his children.

  7. this was so sweet. i ADORE that photo. just says something about the drudgery. :)

    my father died at 63 of a heart attack...

  8. Your father would have been so proud of you DJan! I mean that. Can you imagine if he could see you sky diving and hiking all over the place at 70 years old? This was a really sweet post.

  9. I love the name "Daddy."
    Reading this post brought tears to my eyes...thinking of the love you have for your Daddy.
    Happy birthday to your Daddy.
    I will be working with Daddy again tomorrow on a house we are restoring. It's the old home that we moved to when we moved from Jacksonville, Florida when I was 3 years old. Daddy will be 86 this summer; I will be 62. I treasure every moment with him. He is a great teacher, and I love him for always. Your post tugs at my heartstrings.

  10. You got me right in the heart DJan. What a beautiful post and what a tribute to your Daddy - its plain to see the LOVE. I kinda laughed when you talked about those old shows and talking to someone in the future into a watch. Remember the old star trek shows - we use that technology or most of it today. I love every little change and embrace technology like wanting that cold drink of water out in the middle of the desert.
    My Dad lived to be 91 and one of the memories of him and I, was how proud he was of me when I moved to England to study nursing - to make it short. My Dad was French and used broken english with words like dese, dose and dem, da - you get the picture. Queen Elizabeth was making an appearance at our University to open a new wing (Kings College Hospital/Teaching University), thus, I was in the lineup to meet her , did meet her, she actually chatted with this then young Canadian Girl and I wrote my Dad all about it - so remember - broken english - Dad would always say " You know my daughter dere, Lilly, well, Mr. Man, she met da Queen of Hengland, you know, da one dat's always coming here to visit, wit da Prince. Dat's my daughter, da one wit da brown eyes."
    Anyway, aren't memories great. Thank you DJan for sharing this wonderful post about your Dad, because it brought back some wonderful memories for me also. Take Care lol

  11. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. Happy birthday Mr. Stewart. This was a sort of synchro for me....as my brother just emailed me a picture of my 80 yr. old dad standing at the sink...but doing dishes. Something I'd never seen him do in a lifetime. We lost touch after he remarried after my mom passed in the 80's...he just went off and became another families daddy. It was hard to see how much he'd aged, but good to see that his new family makes sure he shares in the chores! LOL! Unlike your dad ...my dad was not a morning person. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person, and I'm sorry you didn't get to keep him around longer...he'd be proud of you.

  12. What a lovely tribute to your Dad. I can feel the love and the longing. And I share some of that alongside you. My own Dad who would have been 99 on the 17th of April will be gone 28 years on the 27th. He too, would have been in awe of our technology and would be using email to send me his corny jokes.

    Thanks for sharing your memories. I'm sure your Dad would be mighty proud of you.

  13. This was such a sweet and endearing post. I can imagine how proud your dad would be of his children and their accomplishments.

    I don't know about you, but I've never outgrown my desire to be my Daddy's little girl. I was the oldest, too, and my dad is still alive. I don't see him often, as he lives in Arizona most of the year, but each time I do, I treasure the moments as though they may be the last.

    It's nice to read this story, and makes me want to sit down and write one for my Daddy!

    Thanks, DJan!

  14. What a beautiful tribute to your father DJan. I'm sure he would be very proud of his children.

    My dad's birthday was April 16h, he passed away in 1983.

  15. This is a truly beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing a little of this lovely man with us. And no, while he is remembered he is not gone.

  16. Beautiful tribute, DJan. Your parents would be proud!

  17. This........well, it just melts my heart. So wonderful are your words, your memories, your keeping your father up to date with all the advances of today's world!!

    And the photo of your dad....beautiful.

    I enjoyed this, it was just like you were sitting down, writing your father a letter to inform him of all his family and your love and respect for him and your mother.

    AWESOME!! I'm sure glad I found time to drop by.

  18. You have good memories DJan! I often think about people that have died and wonder what they would think of today's world.
    Your Dad must have been 25 when you were born..just like me and my Dad:)

  19. That'a a lovely tribute to your Dad D-Jan and all triggered off by a photo of him making his morning coffee. Such a natural photo. They're always the best aren't they. There is so much life in it, that you can imagine his next move - stirring the coffee, putting on the lid and turning to the camera with a sleepy smile on his face as he is getting ready to greet the new day.
    Lovely memories for you and glimpses into another life for us.

  20. Sweet tribute DJan. It left me with the notion to reflect on the age of those close to us and the reason they took leave. The hardest was my son at 27 due to the effects of bi-polar. My mom lived to 77 but passed on after suffering Alzheimers for over ten years. My dad was 97 and passed peacefully waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up to go play bingo. I hope to emulate him....

  21. Lovely, just lovely.

    There is so much family love in so many of your posts you have me quite envious.

  22. What a lovely tribute to what sounds like a wonderful man. My Dad is also 95 but alive and well I'm glad to say.

  23. This is so beautiful DJan. I wish I could be as energetic as you when I'm 70. I can see your dad must have been a loving, wonderful man.

  24. A beautiful post, DJan. It took me back to my childhood, too. I was the second oldest of seven, and that list of character traits you got from your parents would fit us too.


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