I remember my dad reading to us, before we could read for ourselves, and not abridged stuff either. The Book of Mormon, The King James Bible. Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, The Wizard of Oz. Poetry and prose, horror and humor, high language and low puns.
My dad was the strongest man in the world. Even thru my adult eyes, I can see that my dad was one of the physically strongest people I've ever known. He would pick up whole bags of cement without effort. Hold up complete sheets of sheetrock with one hand. Drive heavy nails into hard wood with one blow with one hand using a 16oz hammer. Run a chainsaw for hours on end, carving up hard heavy wet North Carolina oak.
I remember too, him kicking a soccer ball clear over the house, over and over again, as a summer afternoon game with his children.
When my father was my age, he had a wife, a PhD, five intelligent and aggravating children, an important and demanding day job, and an even more demanding church position.
When I was young, I thought everyone completely rebuilt every house they lived in, striping away everything to the loadbearing beams, and then building out again new walls, new wiring, new plumbing. New counters and fixtures. We did, which is to say, mainly, that he did.
My father is immovable in his faith, but is no mortal's sheep. He can ask the question or make the statement that will bring some sunday school wild speculation crashing down in shards, but his quiet knowledge of what IS, is.
My father gets joy in helping others by working. Lifting, cleaning, building. Moving snow, moving dirt. He makes things ranging from bags of children's blocks to entire buildings.
My father is not very demonstrative in affect, but he is not cold. He loves, cherishes, and protects his wife. He loves his children, even when we cause him aggravation And he loves his grandchildren. And we all know it, and always have. He demonstrates his love by what he *does*, not in lots of meaningless words.
He has fallen into a frozen river. He has had machinery explode around him, driving huge fist sized chucks of twisted steel into the walls around him, but never touching him. He has waded in cyanide. He stuck his arm in an airplane propeller, and has crashed an airplane.
Today is his sixty-fourth birthday.
Happy birthday, dad.