My father would have turned 84 today.
As those of you who visit here regularly know, he is often the inspiration behind my kitchen experiments and my posts.
Perhaps more importantly, he gave me many of his traits, including a voracious appetite for the written word, as well as a hearty appetite for food, which is why my hips are bigger than I want them to be. He loved history, especially American history, and I majored in that subject at college. A letter my father wrote to his Aunt Laura Penn at the end of World War II indicates he considered becoming a journalist. I did become one, for several years in radio and a decade in newspapers.
I inherited his sense of humor and the inherent shyness that humor masked.
When I was a child, I called him by his given name. Calling him Daddy came much later. I called him my "Favorite Friend."
I am what I am because of both of my parents. But I suspect I am more like my father than I am like my mother.
No parents are perfect. They give us their gifts and some are perhaps faulty. But you know it doesn't really matter, if we are fortunate enough to grow to like ourselves as we are. And I have. Lucky me.
I keep a small copper vase on my desk in my new office. It is filled with paper clips. I cannot recall what my father used it for, but I use it to remind me of him and the simple lessons he taught me.
"If you can't say anything good about someone, don't say anything at all."
"You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
He practiced those lessons, especially the first one.
Thanks, Dad. Happy birthday.
Note: The photo is Boulevard l'Hopital in Paris. Thanks to the men of the 4th Infantry Division - and the book, "Is Paris Burning?" - I was able to determine the route of the first American troops to enter Paris in 1944. My father was part of a combat engineer unit that was part of this, the famed "Ivy Division." I believe this boulevard, which my husband and I know well, was part of the route through the 13th arrondissement.