Dad was a man of faith and high moral principles. He was a quiet man, even stoic—but Dad was not afraid to challenge someone who skidded across his clear line of acceptable behavior. For example, he could not abide a man who would use the Lord’s name in vain. Dad belonged to the Holy Name Society—and when he occasionally heard someone, even a stranger, speak the name of the Son of God in an epithet, Dad would pointedly retort, “How did you recognize me without my sandals?”
Dad was active in the Knights of Columbus, and he served St. Francis Cabrini parish as an usher and in many other small ways. He and my mom sacrificed to send us six kids to Catholic school, and he led by example—taking us with him to Mass each Sunday.
I mention all of these evidences of his faith today, rather than focusing on his steadfastness as a husband and father or his reliability as a worker and provider, because today I have a birthday gift which surpasses any old necktie I might have given him during his lifetime.
So, Dad—Do you remember visiting Rome during your stint in the 101st Airborne during World War II? Well, this year on your birthday, your oldest daughter is spending the day in Rome. And not just that—I’m here at the invitation of the Vatican, attending the Vatican’s Meeting for Bloggers (that means “Internet writers”). The sort of thing you’d never, in your wildest dreams, have imagined.
I know I gave you and mom cause to worry during my teen years (driving a car, dating the boys, that sort of thing); but I’m here to tell you that the values you sought to instill took hold. So here I am—a Catholic writer! I know how proud you’d have been to know that!
I was pretty young when you died, inexperienced in the ways of the world, but I thought I knew more than you did. I’m older now, and I know just how much I had yet to learn (and still have to learn!) I know, too, that life is short and eternity is forever. Whether next year or in forty years, I’ll be seeing you soon, and we both—father and daughter, brother and sister in Christ—will stand before the throne of God.
So Dad, I’m proud to be your daughter. Happy Birthday!