If my father was correct in his beliefs, then right now he is celebrating his 61st birthday with other saints and angels in Heaven. Of course, I seriously doubt they use earth years to tell time, but, in earth years, it is his 61st birthday today, March 18, 2015. Most people knew my father as a pastor, or later as a priest and bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, I knew him simply as Daddy.
Yes, religion and Christianity played huge parts in our families life growing up, and still does today. Church was life… not going to church, we lived it, every day it seemed, especially once my dad took on the responsibilities of a bishop. But church did not totally define my dad, at least not to me, and I have many things, beyond my faith, to thank my dad for.
#1: Science Fiction
Star Trek and Star Wars… hell, anything with “star” in the title… Stargate, Battlestar Galatica… familiar things on T.V. Without a doubt, I’d probably still love all of these without my dad watching these things and sharing them with me, however, my dad loved science fiction and he passed that love on to me. My own children now are getting heavy doses of the same stuff. They watched (well, Katherine, John and Karl) the majority of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis with me… and they love “Captain Carter” and “Teyla.” They adore Star Wars – they have seen all six movies, mroe then once, and watched the Clone Wars cartoons… remember, the oldest, Katherine, is only 5. The boys have light sabers and pretend to be Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi. The glue there eyes to the T.V. if Star Trek comes on, or anything with ships, aliens and weird guns. Don’t worry, I haven’t exposed them to the reboot of Battlestar Galitica yet… not because it is too violent of course, but because its not longer on Amazon Prime :(. Like with my kids… where my wife has to be my “check” with what Ilet my own kids watch, my dad was the same way (He took me to see Terminator 2 in the theater… I was 10 years old).
I could go on and on on how my dad pushed sports, particularly baseball, but then you might wonder how I came to love baseball and other sports. My dad followed the Atlanta Braves – yes, even when they sucked – like a religion. He had calendars of the schedule, had all the stats, etc, etc. He also loved University of Georgia football – and when both me and my brother Jake became “Dawgs” ourselves, he was very proud. He loved to watch golf and tennis… and though, personally, I have a hard time watching tennis, because I watched so much gold with my dad, especially events like the Masters, and the British Open, I can sit for a weekend and watch golf. With my kids, its racing – they love cars and things that go fast, and on Sunday afternoons, if I turn the race on, my three oldest will sit there, just like with SciFi, glued to the screen. Baseball and football are to boring for them (ironic, I know), but I am sure they will get there in time. My dad gave me a love of sports, and that love, like with science fiction, is being passed on to his grandchildren.
#3: Video Games
People who really knew my dad knew he liked to play video games, specifically the role playing game series Final Fantasy – they only one he never did actually beat was Final Fantasy 12, which he restarted twice 9from the end of the game) so he could get the Zephyr Spear… yes, my father was a dedicated and patient man when it came to his Final Fantasy. One of my favorite picture of my dad is of him sitting in his chair with a Playstation 2 controller in his hands. I would sit for hours, sometimes into the wee hours of the night on weekends, watching him play games like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia, and Dragon Warrior/Quest, reading the guides for him, telling him where to go, and simply just watching him play. In turn, he’d watch me play Legend of Zelda, sports video games, and also the RPGs that he loved to play as well, giving me advice, and telling me where to go. To this day, i still buy every Final Fantasy game that comes out (getting one today actually FF-Type-0), because I know that there is a chance my dad would as well. I have to make sure I get the collectors editions too… and now that I know how expensive those things are, I realize my dad must have really, really liked these games, and not just the games, but the artwork and all involved as well, because he typically got the collectors edition games and guides as well. His grandkids here in Rhode Island love video games as well… from watching me play Final Fantasy – or as Katherine calls it, the “Chocobo Game” – you would have to know Final Fantasy, to playing the original Super Mario Bros. game (yes the original) – well, at least just jumping up and down and running to the first hole after getting past the Goombas jsut to fall in. John would fall asleep watching me play Destiny – much to the disapproval of my wife – and when I still had to “farm” for materials in the game, all my kids would point out they would see “spinmetal” or “spirit bloom” on the screen. Yes mom, they play the “Putty Game,” though they still haven’t figured out the controls quite yet :). Again, another thing my dad gave me a love for which I love to pass on to my children.
There are many other things my dad gave me love for, but I think the most important thing to me is that he didn’t just give the love for these things to me, its that I get to pass these things on to my own children, and I understand why my dad enjoyed sharing these things with me and my brothers (and sister) so much. Its a generational thing… and its a daddy thing. My father was a great man, a very smart and wise man, and he is remembered for a lot of things. From his two hour long sermons, for his love of God and church, for his fast driving (he passed that to me as well), for his smile and his laugh (yep, I got that as well, and I think John II has it too), but its the things that he shared with just us and me that I remember and miss the most. I wish I could have seen the latest Star Trek with him, and I wish he would be around to see Star Wars in December. I wish I could call him and ask him how he thinks the Braves will do this year, or what he thinks about the new Final Fantasy – and though he isn’t her in the physical to see or play, I know he is still in my heart and still with me. I can see him in my children, and I can’t wait to continue to share his love, and now my love, for these things with them.
Happy Birthday Daddy!