An Ordinary Joe Soapbox Classic: A Great Man
In 1995, I wrote a tribute to my father on his 89th birthday. In honor of Father’s Day, I am reprinting this tribute:
Today, I want to pay tribute to a great man. No, it isn’t George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Ulysses S. Grant. And it definitely isn’t Donald Trump, Tom Cruise, Pee-wee Herman, John Travolta, or Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.
Instead, I want to honor my father. He turns 89 today.
My father was born in Chicago, served in the Navy during World War II, and received a bachelor’s degree from Lake Forest College in Illinois. He married my mother in Louisville in 1957, and they had three children together (I’m the youngest, yet I was the first to get married). He worked as an accountant at Northern Illinois University from 1968 until his retirement in 1996. He and my mother then lived in Louisville until they moved to Muncie, Indiana, in 2012.
If there is a word that can describe my father is that he is Irish. Although he has a quick temper, my father has a tremendous sense of humor. I still remember making jokes about the B-movie A Bucket of Blood after I had my tonsillectomy in 1971. He may be the worst singer on the planet, can’t write great books, and never has drank to excess, yet he has the Irish love of music, literature, and whiskey.
A mild passion of my father’s life is Notre Dame football. He enjoys watching the Fighting Irish steamroll Northwestern, Army, Navy, and other college football pasties. He also is a fan of the Chicago White Sox. I’m ashamed that he would follow a team that once threw the World Series and plays in a mediocre ballpark (U.S. Cellular Field, formerly the new Comiskey Park), but as Joe E. Brown said at the conclusion of Some Like It Hot, nobody’s perfect.
Unquestionably, my father is a “talks the talk and walks the walk” Roman Catholic. He scrupulously follows the Ten Commandments, goes to Sunday Mass and to Confession, prays his rosary, supports the Pope, and in his younger days, was involved in parish affairs. He has been disturbed by the changes in the culture over the past few decades. He even gets upset when I describe the salacious parts of the National Enquirer and other weekly tabloids. Yet he has remained steadfast in his church, and he believes the world may someday become a more holier place.
To quote an Irish proverb, “As you slide down the bannisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.” Happy birthday, Dad, and may you have a smooth ride for the rest of your life.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
The greatest heroes in society are good fathers.