Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

Today's Feature is:

My Dad.

This is a particularly tough one to write. Not because there isn't enough to say, but because there is too much. The Friday Feature was started to pay tribute to friends and family who have helped us over the years in some way. How do you pay tribute to someone who has helped you every single, solitary day of your life? It can't be done. I'll just show you some pictures, tell you some tidbits, and hope that those of you who haven't met him will someday have the pleasure .

I thought I'd start with some interesting facts.

My dad's nickname in high school was "Hero". He was a football star.

My dad played in the Rose Bowl in 1967. Read this. He held Purdue's interception record for 21 years.

My dad likes Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. This is his house.

This is the view from his house.

When my dad said that he and my mother had decided to move with Katie from suburban Chicago to an extremely small Wisconsin town, we were a little concerned. The place is fantastic IN THE SUMMER. In the winter it is reminiscent of the movie, The Shining. My dad had been going "Up North" ever since he was a kid. The Eagle River area really is a summer paradise. I remember a time when my father took me water skiing. All of the sudden he stopped the boat and I fell. He was pointing skyward to a bald eagle soaring above us. He didn't want me to miss it. After a few years, it seemed like the move would be okay. Then I saw this picture.
Remind you of anyone?

It may be time to leave the northwoods.

This is my dad at my wedding. What? Your dad wasn't Elvis at your wedding? How strange. You should have called my dad, he would have come right over to help liven up your big day. This was not a "One Night Only" event. My dad has been Elvis on several occasions. He has been Elvis in a boat, at a restaurant, at home, and for a group of these people...

He got thank you notes from almost all of the nuns.

He has also been Roy Orbison, but luckily I can't find any of those pictures.

After his performance at our wedding , a friend (who had known my Dad for twenty-five years) said, "Where did you find that Elvis impersonator? He was great!" You may be thinking, I didn't know your dad was a professional Elvis impersonator. Well he isn't. Professional is much too strong a word. It is more of a hobby. My father is a salesman. He has been a salesman for close to forty years. He is on the road right now, making calls, seeing clients, selling lighting. My dad is great at what he does. I think when people think of a salesman, they either think of a smarmy used car seller type, or a depressive, dejected Willy Loman type. My dad is neither of these things. He is extremely confident without being cocky. He is friendly, but not pushy. He is funny. He is a straight shooter. I had the opportunity to accompany him on a sales call here in Los Angeles and he was flawless. It is obvious why he is the best salesman in his company. People respect his experience and his disarming nature. He is a pro.

My father has an optimistic nature. He is a glass half-full/count your blessings/play hurt kind of guy. He is gregarious. He looks for the good in people. He looks carefully to find something in common with every person that he comes across. He gives people the benefit of the doubt. This may explain why my dad is still friends with people he met in kindergarten. That's right, kindergarten. I can barely sustain friendships with people that I met last week! How on earth does one remain friends with someone for so long? I find this amazing, astounding, and admirable. His extreme generosity and optimistic nature have allowed him to build a large circle of friends and fans around him.

My father is extremely generous. He probably would have retired long ago if he hadn't spent so much money on his kids. He and my mother worked very hard to give us everything we ever needed or wanted.When I told my dad that I wanted to leave Illinois and go to college in NYC to be an actress my dad said, "Let's fly out, check out schools, and see some Broadway shows while we are there." It is because of him that I was able to go here, and live here . Up until I went to college I thought that this was pretty much the norm for most kids. I thought that parents were, for the most part, supportive of their children financially and emotionally. When I went away to school I quickly learned that this was not the case. I met people whose fathers had abandoned them when they were young children. I met friends whose parents wrote them off when they told them they wanted to study acting. I had friends in school who worked three jobs to pay for their education. Many of them, because of these time constraints, weren't able to experience much of a college life in Greenwich Village. I feel very, very lucky. It would be great to be in a position to finally give something back to my dad. It would be wonderful to be able to help him in some way. He is the one that is always being asked for help. It must be difficult being everyone's rock all the time, although if you ask him, he will probably say what he said to me yesterday,"Jules, it's water off a duck's back."

When I told my dad that I had met someone in Santa Fe and had decided (after one month) that I would like to give up acting, leave NYC, and move cross country to be with said person my dad said,"I'll fly out, rent a van, and help you move." We had a great trip driving across the country, making some business calls along the way.

How will my adoption impact my dad? I can't wait for my kids to meet the King of Dads, the Bald Eagle (He prefers follicle-ly challenged). He is already a fantastic Grandpa to my nieces. It is a chorus of high pitched ,"PapaPapaPapa,Papas" when they are together.

My father is a baby whisperer. He does this thing with kids, I think the scientific name for it is... Sleep Hums. He hums, not one long hum, but a series of short deep hums. This soothes a child instantly. The child is asleep in minutes, sometimes seconds. I hope my favorite baby whisperer is available when I have a cranky baby and a raging toddler.

My father has a quality that I think might actually be indigenous to Ethiopia. He includes everyone. Everyone is welcome. He invites the whole village to dinner. If someone is nearby and seems hungry, or lonely, or sad he will say," Come on by for dinner." He is open. He wants to help. He wants to entertain. He wants to nourish. He, visually, may be the closest connection these kids will have to their homeland. He dresses up in white clothing with gold trim while singing and dancing.
This is another picture from my wedding.

My sister had just given a beautiful speech, and my brother had given an equally lovely one the night before. My dad got up from his chair walked over to us, placed his hands on us and said, "You kids know all the right things." If we know any of the right things dad, it is because we learned them from you.

Yesterday was my dad's 62nd birthday. He said, "I have reached middle age."

Happy Birthday dad, I sure hope that you are right. I would like at least another 62 years with you.


  1. Wow, I am definatly having my cry for the day. This is beautiful. Our dads sound a lot alike. We are very lucky. What a beautiful tribute!
    Happy Birthday, Julie's Dad!!

  2. This is my favorite feature yet. Let's hope he lives until he's 124!

  3. What an amazing tribute. I don't even know you, but now I wish I knew your dad. :)

    Good luck with your adoption, I think that your child(ren) will grow up in a very loving family.

    ~a fellow CHSFSer

  4. You are KILLLING me with this blog! This post made me cry. 2nd time you've done that today. And not due to any horrific daddy issues. . . I have a great dad too. I think that's why it was so moving for me. You are such a good writer.