A mere five days after my mom’s birth, my dad was born. Yep, same year, too! I used to tease my mom about “robbing the cradle” with a younger man.
As I have said before, my dad is a man’s man. He is a former United States Marine and a retired San Francisco police inspector. To say my dad was something of a thrill seeker in his day would be accurate. Recently, a list of the top 15 scariest jobs was released, and not only did my dad hold three of them, those three are in the top 5, including the number 1 scariest job!
Those who have come to know my dad in the past 25 years are often shocked to hear of the life he led. Hearing of the kind of man he was doesn’t seem to fit with the man he is.
Having known him my whole life, I see how it all blends. To mentally survive being a cop in San Francisco, you must be able to keep yourself from getting emotionally attached to human suffering. Professionally, he was able to do this. But personally, he poured himself into serving others. He loved building things. While he did a lot of home improvement projects, he volunteered his skills and time to so many community groups. I was in the Boys Club, so he had a big part of building our floats for the annual 4th of July parade through town. This time of year was always busy for him. He built many haunted houses for my schools, as well as perfected his costume and presentation as Santa Claus for decades. He coached little league baseball, and ultimately became the league president.
As he neared the end of his career in law enforcement, he did the unthinkable. He got involved in prison ministry. For a cop to go into San Quentin to meet face to face with inmates was completely absurd. As you might imagine, cops were not all that popular in prison. But he didn’t care. He felt it was important for inmates to see the human side, the Christian behind the badge.
After he retired, he and Mom got involved with an orphanage in Mexico. To see my dad play with little children was a side I had never seen. He let them climb all over him. He let them put things in his hair. He let them do whatever they wanted as long as it made them happy and smile. He performed magic tricks for them.
He simply loved on them.
At home, he went from a man who I never saw make a sandwich..because Mom loved to take care of us that way, to a man who made breakfast, lunch and dinner. He did laundry. he cleaned the house. Dinner conversation ranged from talking about the Giants and 49ers to tips on what kind of fabric softener I should use and how to steam vegetables in the microwave. When my mom’s sickness made her incapable of maintaining her role as the homemaker, Dad embraced it. I never thought that could happen. But he did it. On top of it all, he became a nurse. He took such tremendous care of my mom during the last 15 years of her life.
What an example of a real man my dad has been. He was a provider. He was and is a man of strength and integrity. He is and was a strong spiritual leader. He was and is generous with his time and money. He is eager to take care of people.These are the qualities that underline the Marine, cop, and mild-mannered grandpa.
Today is the birthday of a legendary man. I’m honored to know him as Dad.
Happy Birthday Dad!