Today, January 9, is my Dad’s 91st birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!
My Dad is pretty amazing. At 90 he decided his living arrangements were not quite working for him so he found a house for sale on the Internet. Then he spent weeks and weeks working through a myriad of sales issues and bank requirements via phone and fax. He weathered all sorts of frustrating real estate highs and lows, and last fall signed a 30 year mortgage and moved into his new house – alone!
Being on oxygen because of heart problems (not smoking) has slowed my Dad down the past two years, but hasn’t stopped him from enjoying his favorite pursuits. Each time we talk he updates me on the progress of the new project he is working on. He is currently pulling together a viable, interesting business start-up, and has assigned himself the task of writing the related training manuals.
My Dad is an electronics genius, and has always been an entrepreneur. He only has a high school degree, but has worked alongside multi-degreed electronic engineers.
I learned about business and how to deal with folks in business by watching him interact over the years with his clients, staff and my uncles. I have fond memories of spending a great deal of time at his business surrounded by piles of TV tubes, short-circuit TV equipment, and electronic stuff stacked on work tables, alongside the typewriters and adding machines in his offices. (I obviously did not inherit his mechanical talents or interest because I still have no idea what all that stuff was, but if I asked my Dad he would probably remember each piece and its purpose.)
My Dad, is also the person, who fostered my love of reading and music, and my curiosity about what makes people and things tick. He is seldom intimidated by how things work, he bought his first computer in his 60’s and figured out how it ran, how to program it, and how to surf the net in no time at all. He’s the kind-of guy, who always has spare computer parts lying around: I think he enjoys taking them apart and putting them together as much as he does using them.
He also loves rides in the country and after all 9 of his children were grown and out of the house, he and my Mom enjoyed day trips to Ohio’s Amish country so much that they led car caravans of family and friends there annually. My last trip home in 2010, included a short trip to a nearby Amish store with my Dad.
Another warm and wonderful recent memory is our long conversations on Skype. At 88 my Dad downloaded and learned to use Skype, so we could talk while I was in the Peace Corps in Macedonia. One night we spent about an hour using his access to Google Earth to pinpoint where I was living in Bitola; he held and manipulated his computer camera to show me his screen as I tried to direct him down the streets to my door! Using Google Earth was his idea, we had fun and came within 10 virtual meters of my house.
Happy Birthday Dad, and I wish you many more, after all, your newest project includes a five to ten-year plan!