Today is my father’s 65th birthday. I am not sure why, but it seems like a big milestone. I had planned to make a little photo book for him and so I spent some time (read: A LOT of time) going through our digital photo library of 25 000 photos. Yes, 25 000 – Tim and I really need to cull that collection. But after looking through all the photos, I only came up with about 60 photos to make a book. And many of these are several photos from the same series. It just didn’t look like enough to make an impressive book so I had to move on to other birthday present ideas.

But the time with the photos was not wasted! It became really obvious to me when looking through the collection that my father is the grandparent of whom we have the least photos. I am kind of surprised by this as I had thought we made an effort to snap pictures whenever the “grands” are around, but apparently not. I will rectify this from here forward.

What was most interesting were the 3 themes that emerged among the pictures of my dad. The pictures all fell into one of the following categories:

1). Pictures of Dad cuddling with the new baby
2). Pictures of Dad with a child on a “vehicle” (ride on mower, motorcycle, bicycle)
3). Pictures of Dad flying something (kite, RC helicopter, etc.) for the entertainment of a child (and his own)

It was pretty funny to see this actually and it was why it felt silly to make a book of it. In retrospect, I probably should have, because it is so obvious to see how he spends his time with his grandchildren.

My memories of my dad are similar to those photos. He spent a lot time flying and making helicopters (his hobby), teaching us to ride our bicycles, and cuddling. He was always the one with the camera so he is not in LOTS of photos (some, but not lots) but the ones he is in are very similar to my pictures. In fact, it was a joke in our household about how many times you would have to blow out your birthday candles before he got just the right “shot” (it was never just once, let me tell you).

Other memories of my dad:

He worked a lot, but always came for supper and bedtime before returning to complete unfinished work.

He brushed and flossed our teeth until we were 8 years old (I have since learned that children are not neurodevelopmentally capable of doing this adequately until that age. So he was right…don’t tell him. But at the time I thought it was ridiculous).

He would take me out of school at least once a winter so we could spend the day skiing at the “big” hill 2 hours from home.

He was great at being silly with kids (still is).

He never minds a long drive.

He would take each of us camping separately and then together so that we had individual time with him. This was the ONLY time he prepared food for us: beans and wieners, hot dogs…you know, camp food. Also, we would always stop at the store where we would each pick out a pack of chewing gum for the trip. This was the only time I ever remembering my dad chewing gum.

He came to our activities, but they weren’t super important to him. This could be annoying, as you kind of wanted him to engage sometimes, but hey all parents are different, right?

He was/is ALWAYS late, and even more infuriating he is completely delusional about that fact!!!

But the thing about my dad that stands out most in my mind is that he is the man to call in a crisis. He can be super annoying when you are trying to talk about mundane irritations (he is always too rational, he never “gets it”; but in a crisis – he is THE MAN. He stays calm, he organizes, and he makes it all better. Case in point: Fourth year of university, I receive a letter stating that my application to medical school was rejected on a technicality related to a half credit summer course I took (so I took 4.5 instead of 5 credits during the year). I was hysterical as only a super-planning 21 year old, middle of exams during last year of university can be. I was incoherent when talking to my boyfriend (now husband). He just picked up the phone and said: “here, call your Dad.” I did. And somehow, he made it all better. I calmed down. We made a plan. He decided to drive up to pick me up for the Christmas holidays (8 hour return trip) and it all worked out. That is my dad.

You cannot rely on him to get you to the airport on time. But you can always rely on him to help you in crisis, no matter the inconvenience to his own life. When you really need him, he show up: BIGTIME. Everybody should have someone they can call like that. I am so lucky that I do.

Perhaps that is why the “65” seems like a milestone to me. It makes me ponder what I will do when I can’t call “dad”. Yep, 37 years old and I still need my parents. Oh well, I am SO lucky that I still have them.

Happy Birthday, Dad!