One of my earliest memories of my father was about his struggle to quit smoking. When I was about three years old, I specifically remember sitting on top of the washing machine in our house. He told me that if I stopped sucking my thumb, he would stop smoking. I agreed. Neither of us held to our bargain. Well that's not true. I stopped sucking my thumb during the day and he stopped smoking cigarettes where I could see. Instead, I would suck my thumb at nigh, and he would smoke a cigarette where ever he could that my sisters and I couldn't see. Mostly at night when he walked our dog. I'm assuming at work too. Eventually, I did stop sucking my thumb at seven, but it took Dad a little longer to stop smoking. He tried a bunch of times, but anyone who has been a serious smoker knows how hard it can be. He kept it away from us for health reasons and also to not influence us to smoke. Seven years ago he finally quit for good and I know we're all happy, because it means his health is better for it.
The other reason I believe my father hit this milestone, is because he is just a good natured, easy going guy. He's always great in a crisis too. One of my favorite stories from when I was a kid was when my sister, Beth, got her head stuck between the iron bars that separated our kitchen from our living room. She was about two or three and had managed to push her head through the bars, but then couldn't get it back out. She started to scream and cry uncontrollably. My mom couldn't get her out and started to panic as well. It was in the morning and my father had gone running. He came back into the house, just as my mom was picking up the phone to call the fire department. He walked over to my sister talked to her and calmed her down. She stopped crying long enough for him to pop her on the forehead with his hand, sending her head back through the bars into freedom. Perhaps this wasn't a huge crisis for a guy who is a retired Lt Col in the Marine Corps. A guy who was stationed in Saudi Arabia for nine months in the early 90's, but it was a crisis for our family, and he handled it with ease as he always has.
So even though 60 isn't THAT old anymore, it is still quite a milestone and I'm so thankful to have my Daddy reach it. With his good nature and new found health, I'm hopeful he'll be around to see a few more milestone birthdays. Perhaps to even watch my girls reach some of their own. Happy Birthday Daddy! Here's to 60 more years! Well, at least 30.