Happy 60th Birthday, Dad

Happy 60th Birthday, Dad

I’ve wanted now for quite some time
To write a poem for today
But I’m a little out of practice
And unsure of what to say

No one has your gift for words
Your flawless meter, well-rhymed rows
But if you’ll humor me, I’ll try
(Though I prefer to stick to prose)

When each us of got married
You wrote a poem for the day
They were apparently designed 
To wash our makeup all away

So now it’s payback time, Dad
For the times you made us weep
I’ve heard you say that what you sow
Eventually you’ll reap

We’ll start at the beginning
Of the story even though
It starts waaaay back in ‘59
A long, long time ago

A “little” baby boy was born 
Chubby cheeks, green eyes, dark hair
He was so cute that to 
A little girl some might compare

But he was definitely all boy
Loved to laugh and to play ball
But life threw curves that sometimes
Made it hard to laugh at all

Those early years weren’t easy
Lots of hurt, and fear, and dread
Wondering what the nights would hold
How many tears were shed

But as only God can do,
He turned their lives around
In brokenness came healing
And beauty could be found

Another story might be simpler
It might have hurt far less
But this way showed a miracle
That the Lord made from a mess

It was that faith that formed him
As each year turned the page
His many talents were revealed
From the diamond to the stage

He could play trombone AND croon 
Play baseball like a star
No matter where he went in life
Others knew he would go far

But that still small voice that called him
To join up with “God’s team”
Was silenced for a while
By the chance to chase a dream

So off he went to find out
What his mom knew all along
That even when the dream seems right
Without God, it’s all wrong

Coach Polk knew too, and helped him see
That nothing else could top
The perfect will of God for him
(And it wasn’t at shortstop)

When he ended up in Nashville
It didn’t take him long to spot
The prettiest girl on campus
Who (thank goodness) let herself be caught 

It all fell into place then
And he didn’t seem to mind
Looking back there was no sadness
For the life he’d left behind

Those two kids just couldn’t know
All the ups and downs of life
The storms, the surgeries, the vet bills
But still more fun than strife

Okay, I’ll skip ahead now
From this sentimental start
 (Plus we’re still stuck in the 80s here
Not even close to the best part)

Fast forward a little with me
A couple of decades, if you would
Now they’ve got four daughters
(I told you it got good!)

He says he never would have traded 
His four girls for a boy
I’m just a little biased
But I think we brought him joy

He taught us to appreciate
The classics, Frank and Bing
Rogers, Hammerstein, Irving, Walt
Were the songs that we would sing

Because of him we’re all stuck 
With habits hard to break
Like stopping for a drink and snack
When there’s any trip to take

He tried to reign in all the jokes
During family prayer time
But all the laughs meant punishment
Somehow never fit the crime

But when we finally all shut up
Which, honestly, was brief
He read God’s word and prayed with us
To strengthen our belief

He was our pastor and our dad
And spoiled us all for life
Cause he set the best example
Of how to treat a wife

We just thought that all men helped
Clean house and sweep the floor
And oh, the most important thing
The coffee- brew and pour!

He was our hero but he never
Treated us like dainty girls
He would just as likely wrestle us
As compliment our curls 

Through sixty years now there have been
A lot of roles and names you’ve had
Preacher, Sweetheart, Marion (I kid!),
But my favorite is Dad.

Until eleven years ago when
That first baby came
From that day on your best role yet
When Papa you became

The only thing that’s better
Than seeing you be “dad” 
Is seeing you as Papa
Even when they make you mad

By mixing up your movies
Or getting out the glue
It’s hard to frown at faces
That all look just like you 

I must admit I’m rambling now
It’s hard to find an end
To a tribute to our favorite dad,
A husband, Papa, friend

A faithful preacher all these years
Who’s freely shared God’s word
In many cities, many states
From you so many heard

Of the love that saved your family
And gave ours the chance to start
We’re thankful more than ever
For your willing, tender heart

You’re the greatest combination
Of all your favorites
Andy Griffith’s warmth and humor
All those cowboys’ strength and grit

Jimmy Stewart, Lem Siddons,
The Barney dance, and Gomer Pyle
All the westerns, sports, and musicals
Nick Saban (with a smile)

Okay, this time I’ll really wrap it up
It’s time to celebrate
With ice cream, cake, and Diet Coke
We’ll observe this special date

It’s become our joke to end with
“I hate to think of all things lost…”
But it’s true… we wouldn’t be here
If with God’s path you’d never crossed

And on your 60thbirthday, Dad,
It couldn’t be more true
We love you and we’re thankful
Every day that you are YOU

 -Ashley, your third (and favorite) child