64 things about my favorite 64-year-old

Grandpa and Baby

  1. He got us up in the middle of the night to drive us to Carlsbad Caverns, even though one of us was a grumpy and self-important 13-year-old. Ahem.
  2. And didn’t murder me as we toured said caverns, though I’m sure he wanted to. I was such a hormonal jerk that day.
  3. He loves to make cookies then deliver them all around Chandler, OK. For fun.
  4. One time he was babysitting a toddler-aged Gabi who pooped while they were at the coffee shop. He drove her home to change her so he could be sure he got the job done well.
  5. He’d give you the shirt off his back.
  6. He laughs really, really loud.
  7. And will often slap a knee.
  8. Today is his birthday.
  9. My son looks a lot like my dad’s kid pictures.
  10. He retired about 10 years ago.
  11. He walks 6 miles a day most days.
  12. He’s been a type 2 diabetic since he was 15.
  13. That disease has taken a lot of “normalcy” from him.
  14. But he just rolls with it. Always has.
  15. He loves a good bargain.
  16. At almost every holiday gathering, he makes gigantic spinach salad.
  17. Over half of the time the spinach is from his garden.
  18. He has gardened every year since he retired.
  19. My favorite year followed several non-cooperative tomato years. That year he put in 50 plants and by the end even I didn’t want any more of his effin’ tomatoes.
  20. Whenever we visit, we always leave with a grocery bag or two of produce from his garden.
  21. Whenever we visit, we always leave with a grocery bag or two of food from his pantry.
  22. This came in handy when I was in college.
  23. He plants gardens in spring, summer and fall.
  24. He makes awesome apple pies.
  25. Except one time he didn’t stir the mixture well enough and I almost chipped a tooth on a golf ball-sized wad of brown sugar that had baked into a clod.
  26. He likes to invent baked good recipes.
  27. He loves diet orange soda.
  28. There isn’t a single coffee bean in his house. He prefers to drink coffee with friends twice a day at his hang-outs.
  29. He grew up on a dairy farm.
  30. One house he lived in was so poorly insulated, that the water glass he kept on his nightstand would often have a thin layer of ice when he woke in the morning.
  31. That room was in the attic.
  32. But that’s still pretty nuts by today’s standards.
  33. His big activity in high school was FFA.
  34. I have his FFA jacket. It hangs next to my high school letter jacket and both my graduation gowns.
  35. He types in all caps with terrible punctuation and spelling. I find it endearing.
  36. I have a picture of him somewhere in a seafoam green suit and white belt.
  37. Dressing up nice: very pressed long sleeve western shirt, starched jeans. And back in the day included boots and a Stetson hat.
  38. Dressing up fancy: Suit and tie and knock-off Rolex he bought in an alley in Hong Kong.
  39. Has been to Hawaii twice.
  40. Has been to Hong Kong once.
  41. Has been to Puerto Vallarta once.
  42. Paid for zero for those four trips. Chevrolet and/or Subaru sent him as rewards for being a Customer Service badass.
  43. He was the service manager for a Chevrolet dealership in Moore for 11 years.
  44. The first macadamia nut I had was one he brought back from Hawaii.
  45. He used to let us roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace of his apartment. We didn’t think this was ghetto, we thought this was THE GREATEST THING EVER.
  46. Sometimes he’d let my sister and I walk across 12th Street in Moore to the Pratts to buy BBQ sandwiches. He’d send us off alone (ages 10 and 7) with a $100 bill.
  47. We never got mugged or hit by cars or were worried about either thing.
  48. As a freshly divorced, every-other-weekend dad, he took us to a lot of movies, which was very new to us and also awesome.
  49. His first apartment had Grover blue shag carpet.
  50. His second apartment (right next door) had been renovated with nice carpet and fresh, non-70s decor. I nearly set the kitchen on fire one day when I was 12. Then lied about it. He did not murder me.
  51. One time he bought, I don’t know, something like 10 cases of Shasta and stored them in the extra bedroom closet. I get the bargaineer thing from his side of the family.
  52. When my mom died, he moved back to Chandler immediately and commuted to Moore for work for two years.
  53. He gave let me use his 1972 Chevy Cheyenne as my first car. It was terribly embarrassing but all the cowboys at my high school thought it was cool.
  54. He wouldn’t hold my children until they were at least 6 months old because he feared he’d drop or break them somehow.
  55. When I told him I was getting a divorce, he said, “Well…it’ll be fine. I’m living proof that people survive divorce.”
  56. He could eat a metric ton of air-popped popcorn. Dry, flavorless, air-popped popcorn. He actually makes it in a brown paper sack in the microwave. I think it’s cause he loves crunchy things.
  57. He loves spray butter. I broke his heart a little when I let him know that even though the bottle says 0 calories per spray, there are about 900 calories in the whole bottle.
  58. His love of popcorn pales in comparison to his love for sugar-free Jello. He buys the stuff 40 boxes at a time.
  59. When I was 19 he flew to Vegas (where I was living) and drove my broke-ass home, then let me live with him for months until I was back on my feet.
  60. He doesn’t ask people how they are. He says, “Hey man! Whattaya know?!”
  61. He has a damn fine handshake.
  62. And enormous hands. Thank God my mom had small hands so that I can at least buy gloves at the normal people store.
  63. His shoe size is 14. Unfortunately that translated into me *not* being able to buy shoes at the normal people store. I don’t hate him for that, though, because….
  64. He’s the most generous person I know and I hope to learn how to keep my own heart that open until I’m at least 64.

I thought this might be difficult but I think I could do 65 more next year. He’s rad. Happy birthday, Daddy! (Yes, I still call him Daddy. I figure if my aunts in their 50/60s can refer to their father as Daddy, then so can I. It’s a rural Southern thing.)

3 thoughts on “64 things about my favorite 64-year-old

  1. Your dad rolled with whatever happened. In my early teens, I completely lost my breakfast (McDonald’s hashbrowns) in his car when he was taking us back to Chandler. He cleaned it. On the side of the interstate.

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