Happy Birthday, Dad...

I have had  a "dad" post planned for Father's Day for a while now, but I just hung up the phone with my dad and decided I couldn't wait. May 30th is a special day. MANY 53 years ago, my dad was born to Jack and Phyllis Baines, the second child (post-Debbi, pre-Jay). And he grew up to go to Bible college, meet my mom, fall in love, get married, and have me (post-Amanda/April, pre-Amy). And while I'm sure you think your dad is the best, and I do not begrudge you this faulty belief, I know that you are wrong. MY dad is the very best. I could go on about it for days, but will try to just hit the high points of his awesomeness. =)

1. My dad taught me that baseball is THE most important sport. Basketball and football are okay, but baseball is tops. (And soccer, of course, is for "sissies"... which he says because the one time he played he ended up in the hospital with an almost-broken leg. Ha!) There was a reason that I played catch endlessly as a kid, trying soo hard to get better, could name the Seattle Mariners 25-man roster complete with batting averages, and ate lots of peanuts and sunflower seeds (neither of which I am very fond). I loved the game, yes... but I wanted to impress my dad. I remember our very first Mariners game (in the old Kingdome, no less)... it was one of the last times Nolan Ryan pitched. That was the first of dozens of Mariners, A's, Giants, and Braves games we've attended over the years. 

There he is... Baseball Bob. Playing shortstop here, if I'm not mistaken. I'm glad Dad followed God's will and transferred from Mississippi State to Bible college, although I've thought many times of how cool it would be to have lived on a professional baseball player's salary with a professional ball player. =) 

2. My dad has never, ever, ever made me wish that he were not in the ministry. (Here he is in action! =) That may not sound that impressive, especially if your family isn't in full-time ministry, but I can't tell you how many friends of mine, with parents in the ministry in some way, have told me that they wished often that their families were in some other kind of work. For the first 21 years of my life, my dad was my pastor for 15, and worked in other staff positions for the remaining years. He has faced MANY situations that could have made him angry and bitter or wanting to quit, but he hasn't. He just keeps on. That's probably his best trait, to me anyway- my dad is one of the most consistent people I know. (As Coach Boone would say, "I may be a mean cuss, but I'm the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field." Only Dad's not a mean cuss, but you get the idea.) Not only did Dad not get mad or bitter, he never put the ministry ahead of us. He may never pastor a huge church or be a world-famous preacher (though he could be! =), but I'd say 30+ years of marriage and raising 4 kids to marry preachers (well, 3 anyway!) and serve God is a pretty noteworthy accomplishment. Thanks for making ministry look so good that we wanted the same thing, Dad! (And for channeling any anger into your game-watching and road rage. =)

3. Dad has taught me that I MUST have a drink wherever I go. It doesn't matter if it's an 8-hour road trip or a drive across town, stopping at a gas station for a fountain drink (Diet Coke is his beverage of choice) is mandatory. My poor husband did not understand this when we got married (still doesn't, really)... "We're just going to choir practice! We'll be there in 5 minutes!" But babe, I need that sweet tea! I'm compelled to do this. And it's your fault, Dad! I always loved riding home from church with Dad because it meant stopping for a drink at 7-11 (or for an ice-cream cone at McDonald's, if I was lucky!). So, for all my friends who make fun of the fact that I constantly have a Mountain Dew (or Diet Sunkist, these days) in my hand, now you know why. It's genetic. 

4. I've written a few poems in the past several years, but my dad is the MASTER poet. Good grief, I start to feel kinda good about one of mine and then he'll write another one that reminds me I have a LONG way to go before I'm even close to that level. Perfect rhyme, perfect meter... he's the best. I'm just glad a portion of that gene trickled down to me. 

4. If I could take any trait from my dad, it would probably be his even temper. He really is laid back to a fault, a fact that has served him well in the past 30 years with my crazy mother all of us females in the house. Again, other than watching sports on tv or road rage (for years I thought that the proper response to a honked horn was "IDIOT!") my dad really is rattled much. Alas, I am not quite on his level for this one. I did inherit his non-confrontational side, but I still get plenty mad about stuff... I'm just all talk and won't do anything about it. My dad is able to remain calm and impassive amid a battle for the ages (remember how we fought over clothes?) and I try to be like that. I didn't say I'd succeeded yet, but I'm working on it. =)

I really can't begin to list all the other many, many things my dad has taught me or the countless wonderful memories we have. They'd include, but would not be limited to, a love for all Westerns (Big Valley, Wild Wild West, Bonanza, etc.), the Andy Griffith Show, the "Barney dance" (that's something for our family =), homemade orange sherbet, baseball caps, riding the lawn mower, a jarful of Starbursts, an open office door to help anyone who needs it, "Roll Tide", a huge collection of old movies (he's the reason I'm such a fan of the classics), hot hot dogs, an appreciation of my movie quotes, sarcasm that rivals mine, 32 oz. drinks, packed lunches and a clean kitchen every morning, calling me "sissie", whistling to find us girls in a store, reliving the "glory days" at Amory High, texting Google for the score, reading the Bible when we've all gone to bed, walking the auditorium and praying on Saturday nights, always having family devotions...
and on and on I could go. 

From a tomboyish little girl playing catch, to a teenager getting rides to work, to a married woman with her own house and husband, I can honestly say my dad has been there for me every step of the way, and been the SAME. Not everyone can say that, but it's true for me. We don't get to see each other enough, and our phone conversations usually consist of my telling him funny stories about my class or quoting large portions of The Incredibles, but I love it. 

Happy birthday to our dad, husband, Papa, preacher, friend, Uncle Bob.... everyone loves you, because "you're the best!" =) 


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