My father (pictured above with two of his 7 grandchildren) had a birthday this weekend. He has always taken incredibly good care of himself by eating right and staying physically active. Next year he will celebrate 8 decades on this earth. He overcame poverty, was the first of 11 siblings to graduate from college. He eventually went on to receive a masters degree and an educational specialist diploma. He grew up knowing hard work, valuing savings and making his own way. He remembers being looked down upon during his early school years because he came from a poor family with so many children. I think this helped make him more determined to succeed in life. Some of the many jobs he had in his early years included: short order cook in a small town diner, lab worker at a small appliance factory, railroad laborer, coalmine worker, bread delivery man and probably more that I have forgotten. He worked his way through college with the help of my mom (an elementary school teacher), while they had two small children (that would be my sister and I). His dream was to become a medical doctor. He never realized this dream, in part, because my brother, David, came along. I am sure he wouldn't trade my brother for a medical degree of any designation.
My dad lost two wives to cancer (my mom died of breast cancer in 1986 and his second wife, Rita, to ovarian cancer). He married a third time, to a high school friend of my mothers, Martha. Martha is a very special part of our family and has many similarities to our mom.
My dad values education and learning more than any one else I know. He has never been one to indulge in luxuries or material possessions, but he does like having good shoes and warm jackets! He has a scientific mind, and taught me to be steadfast and diligent in whatever I do. He is a product of a large, poor, rural family during the depression, and the values and work ethic he maintains are a result of that upbringing. My dad has been a major influence in my life, my work, and my family values. With a little bit of luck, he will be celebrating many more birthdays with us! I love you Dad!