Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy birthday, Dad!

My dad turned 90 on the 18th. To parallel Gail's post, he and I are 150 added together! Wow!

My dad is one of those guys from "the greatest generation." I might disagree with that overweening generational assessment but, individually speaking, my dad's definitely one of the greatest guys ever. Yes, he survived the Great Depression. (We're getting our turn for that now. Maybe.) Yes, his family was wiped out in the dustbowl which exacerbated that financial insanity. (He's talked about drinking hot water for breakfast cuz they couldn't afford coffee! I get pissed that I can't afford to buy Kobe beef when I want a steak for dinner.) Yes, he and four of his brothers served in WWII (Ferdinand, the youngest, was too young to serve at all. Moritz, the youngest who did serve, didn't reach his 20th birthday until after the war ended.) and they all came home. (Hooray! Now if we can just get all our young people back from VietNam-in-the-sand.)

But most significantly, he and people like him, generational status aside, are the ones who comprise the essential warp and weft of society. He and his ilk are the salt of the earth, the glue that holds society together, and the lubrication which keeps the machinery of society functioning. Pick your metaphor, mix as you will. He is one of the millions of ordinary people who go through life trying their damnedest to do their best every single day. A life not of quiet desperation a la Thoreau but of quiet dignity and individual effort to create a better world than the one they inherited.

He's the kind of guy who, when he gets socked in the mouth by life, swallows the blood and moves forward without complaint and without hesitation, despite the fact that he knows he'll probably get socked again. That, dear readers, is deep courage. Not the "paper empiricism" of bombastic blusterers who claim what they would do under circumstance X, that's cocktail party courage. Not even the adrenalin-fuelled one-time action of the kind undertaken by people in extremis, although that certainly is one type of courage. I'm talking about the quiet, continuous courage to do the right thing day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. That is an impressive feat and I stand in awe because I sure can't meet that standard.

No, he's not perfect, he's human. We're not cut out for perfection, it doesn't suit us. We're messier than that. Me, I like it that way. Perfection is boring; even if it were attainable, I'd eschew it. In the context of mere humanity and imperfect reality, he's a proletarian Herakles, primus inter pares.

Happy birthday, dad! I love you with all my heart!

P.S. Mister Martin Joseph Maier ("Marty" to the au courant cognoscenti, sometimes-PITA oldest brother to his siblings, or "sarge" to his 1940s Pacific theater brothers in sweat-stained khaki) celebrated his 90th birthday at Hooters. Word on the street is that he had a coupla drinks, ogled a coupla waitresses, and generally had a pretty good time; but I'm kinda glad they didn't take him to Bourbon Street for a strip-club crawl, an idea which was discussed but ultimately discarded. Harumph! I though *I* was the wild, heterodox one in the family! Ahhhh, life in The Big Easy, cher!


  1. Happy Birthday Mr. Dad @ 90 years old! WOW!

  2. What an awesome blog entry. I celebrate the life you Dad. That generation is an amazing lot...