Today is my dad’s 67th birthday, marking the 2/3 point on the journey to 100 (if you round up). I’ve been around for the last 39 of his birthdays and have watched his hair go from brown to gray and from gray to gray and white.He’s gone from 20/20 vision to wearing glasses with one lens to bifocals and now trifocals. If you pay attention when you walk up to him, watch him bob his head up and down trying to pick the lens you look the clearest through. His ability to sit down in the overstuffed leather recliner in his bedroom and be sound asleep before the chair’s last click as the footrest elevates is unparalleled by even Olympic level narcoleptics. His ability to wander off at dinner time to do some random something as everyone is already seated at the table frustrates but is an honest trait passed down through Vance blood. His knot tying skills would baffle even the saltiest Navy man mainly because he invents them as he goes. He’s also unique in his ability to use 75 feet of rope to tie down a single cooler in the back of his truck with a camper shell, but never let it be said that he lost anything going down the road. He’s spent 45 years working as a civil engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation beginning when he was still a student at Mississippi State, but Mom and I are sure that his true calling was with the US Postal Service because there is no postman in the history of this country that has spent as many miles driving with two wheels off the edge of the pavement as he has. He can’t pronounce “French” or “hurricane” to save his life, and his creative spelling techniques make watching him do a crossword puzzle more fun than last year’s Egg Bowl (55-20 #HailState).
With all that being said, he’s been the guy that taught me to fish. He taught me how to remember sine, cosine, and tangent using an acronym involving Old Henry’s painful orifice which was way funnier than the SOH CAH TOA that the teacher used. He provided a good home and a good example for me to follow. He took me to church more than any other kid I knew. He never meets a stranger and goes out of his way to be kind. He’s generous. He taught me to work as hard as I can at whatever it is I am doing through much reminding and gnashing of teeth at times. Most of all, though, he’s loved me and never fails to remind me of that.
Here‘s a story I wrote a while back of a fond memory of him and me.