The best stargazing happens in the cold and other lessons from my father

It’s my father’s birthday! Last year we gave him a box containing an invisible jet, just like Wonder Woman’s. He enjoyed it almost as much as his grandsons loved giving it to him.

This year in honor of my father I’d like to share some of the best advice he has given me over the years.

So here are just a few that come to mind:
1. Nothing is too much for your child to ask. My father has moved children from city to city—occasionally without the child in question being present. In fact, he’s in the process of helping one of his children and her family move right now, and rumor has it that they are using the invisible jet—or at least the cardboard box it was in.

2. In every marriage there is a stronger person. And the stronger person has the strength to give in to the other.

3. Education is the best investment. 10 years after my youngest sibling graduated from college, my father finished paying off his loans on his six children’s college educations earlier this year. That calls for a party.

4. Grocery shopping is a time for socializing. My father can strike up conversation with anybody any time, and he does. For years I couldn’t figure out why everyone wasn’t like that. I think the explanation is that he grew up in Minnesota, but it might just be his personality. Maybe it’s a combination.
5. Vacuum even where you don’t see dirt.

6. If you are about to crash your car and you get to choose, drive into a bush instead of a wall. He actually gave me a list of what was better to hit in which order, but I can’t remember the rest—except that you want to preserve pedestrians’ lives at all costs.

7. When baking cookies, cook them half the time on the lower rack and half the time on the upper.

8. Almost any drive is a day trip. One Easter morning when we were growing up, we woke up, went to Mass, and my parents announced we were going on a picnic with my two older sisters who were at college—in New Haven.

9. The best stargazing happens on cold nights—sometimes during the night. I have wonderful memories of shivering next to a telescope with my father.

10. It’s OK to buy cars online sight unseen without telling your spouse. (Maybe this is a time to look back at #2.)

11. A 12-seat van can fit 10 people, all their luggage, and two artificial Christmas trees. Oh, and there’s always room to store something else in the basement.

12. Don’t waste money on a gift for your father when you could write him a blog instead. (OK, so he didn’t say it quite that way.)

Happy birthday, Daddy! I hope you enjoy this blog as much as your invisible jet.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.