Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy belated birthday, Pop

I goofed up last night and forgot to call my dad to wish him a happy birthday. I got on the ball tonight though, and I gave him a call. I also told him to check out my blog either late tonight or tomorrow, because I planned on writing a little something about him.

My dad and I are a lot alike. No, he didn't get me into comics. He also didn't infuse me with an appreciation for Shakespeare. Nope, he's not an atheist (although he is to blame for me becoming one - more on that later). And no, I didn't inherit my non-interest in sports from him. (He was never a big fan, but he did watch a bit more than I ever do. When I was a little kid, I was into football for about two years, and he was the one who got me into it. It just didn't stick though.)

The thing that I got most from him is that I don't take a whole lot of stuff very seriously. Pretty much every occasion is an opportunity for a joke or ridiculing something that we find to be ridiculous. You should have seen the two of us when we toured the Mormon Tabernacle when I was a teenager. We kept whispering to each other, "When are they going to tell us about how we can get our own planet?" My sense of humor isn't exactly the same. I tend to be more ironic and more of a fan of wordplay. However, the notion that every situation is an opportunity for a joke is one that I definitely get from him.

Something else that I get from him is a sense of responsibility. I'm trying to think of something specific, but I'm at a bit of a loss. For some reason though, I feel as though that if I shirk my responsibilities, I'd be letting him down. I think it's just because he always had high expectations of me. As a teacher, I often think back on what my parents did right in order to get me to do all of my work. I know that my dad wasn't any kind of a star student when he was a kid, and I really don't remember him ever really having a talk with me about how I needed to do well in school. It was always just understood that I was to do well. My mom certainly backed that up, but the driving force behind all this came from him. One thing that I do remember is when I pointed out how he didn't do well in school, he replied with, "I don't measure you with the same yardstick that I measure myself."

Another, character-defining thing that he's to thank (or blame) for is my somewhat bullheaded noncomformity. When he would tell me stories about the army, the moral always seemed to be, "Don't join the army." I know that he's enough like me that he no doubt couldn't stand wearing a uniform and doing the same thing that everybody else did. He could also never be the type to join any kind of an organized religion. A story that he likes to share is when he told a guy who was trying to get him to join the church that he owned a boat but wasn't in the yacht club - basically his point being was that he believed in God, but he didn't feel the need to join a group of other people who did.

I also remember my dad encouraging me to think for myself. I even remember him saying that he'd prefer it if I disagreed with everything he said so long as my thoughts were my own. Ultimately, I think that's why I headed down the path that I did. It's funny, because even though he still believes in God, we don't seem to argue much even when I'm being very critical of Christianity.

I guess he likes the fact that I'm not just regurgitating the stuff that he told me.

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