Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The most important things never make the text books

It's the last week of June. That always reminds me of two things.

A - I'm a year older than I was last week.

B - The last birthday gift my father ever gave me was his funeral. Thanks, dad! There was only 51 other weeks to choose from. I appreciate it!

So I always find my thoughts turning to my father on this week. He's been gone 11 years and I still find myself occasionally starting to reach for the phone to call him up. The truth is that dad would now be 91 years old. And he would have made an awesome 100 year old guy had God blessed him with 20 more years. Alas, it was not to be. But I was thinking about him tonight while washing the car in preparation for a trip to Chicago tomorrow. And I started thinking about the things on this trip that would have wowed him. The things that have changed since he went home in 2000.

Dad would have been shocked by the little box that will hang by suction cup from my windshield tomorrow. To think that it is communicating with at least three satellites and that it was displaying a map while a young woman's voice was directing my every turn would have blown him away.

Dad was no stranger to the existence of cell phones. He never owned one but he "fiddled" (his word, not mine!) with my bulky, early generation phone once or twice. I would have loved to take him to the app on my phone that shows a relatively close-up from-outer-space view of virtually anywhere on the planet. He would not believe that I could pull up an image from beyond earth that shows his house and even the car in his driveway. Or the one that, by touching one button, gives me the address, web site, and directions to any restaurant in his town. He would have been amazed that I could take his picture with my phone and within 60 seconds my brother could be looking at it on his phone in Chicago 600 miles away.

Dad would have loved that I could bring a king size bed with me to his house and blow it up to make it 24 inches thick and sleep as comfortably in his family room as he would in his bed. He would wonder why they didn't invent them back when he was sleeping in the trenches of France or Germany in WWII.

On-Star would have left him speechless.

My father would have been mesmerized by the size and crystal clarity of a typical TV today. And he would say he didn't need one but I promise you that one would be in his family room tuned to professional wrestling (or, as he called it, "rasslin."). And he wouldn't miss one televised Cubs game for sure.

But I think the thing that would surprise my dad the most if he showed up this week in 2011 would be that if he looked at me he would see his wedding ring on the pinky finger of my right hand and one of his WWII dog tags hanging by a chain from my neck. I miss him more than I can say and when I touch those things I can kind of feel him in them.

And the older I get the more I seem to need to feel him around. I wish I had known much, much, earlier that life works that way. Some how the most important things never make it into the text books.