Today is his birthday.

My dad was a pastor. So Sunday, being a workday, his “off day” was Thursday. I remember two distinct things about growing up with dad who was off on Thursday.

First, Thursday was report card day and that was never a good day. But better to give my report card to dad first, then mom.

But a gentler memory is walking in after school with Jazz filling the house. If he was home, that’s what was playing. He had this one Lionel Hampton tape he played a lot. I don’t remember liking it. I don’t remember hating it. It was just part of the air I breathed in. But while in college I borrowed his car and sure enough, that Hampton cassette was queued up and for the first time I listened and my love of Jazz was born that day.

He wrote poems for family occasions, too. They were not very good as poetry but they were exceptional as heart and hearth.

And baseball. Some of my best early memories involve baseball with him. And my last best memory is talking baseball in that miserable hospital room from which he took his first step  to go on ahead of us all.

Most of all, he loved my mom, which is one of those gifts I opened every day and only saw the value of when I was much older… just like all the other things above.