Although we celebrated yesterday at my brother's house, today is my dad's 86th birthday. He was born in 1922. Can you imagine that?
The average annual income in 1922 was $2,067. A new car cost $390. A loaf of bread was $0.09. One gallon of milk was $0.52, and one gallon of gas was $0.11.
The songs "April Showers" and "Carolina in the Morning" were big in 1922.
Insulin was discovered in 1922. President Harding brought the first radio into the White House in 1922.
On February 11, 1922, a second son was born to Walter and Lena Batt in Muncie, IN. They named him Virgil Howard, but everyone has always called him "Bud." Several more children were born to this family, and since they were basically unable to care for their children's material needs, the children were removed from their home.
As a result, my father grew up in the local Children's Home, something like an orphanage. Therefore, there are no pictures of him as a child. No one made a big deal about his birthday or at Christmas. I remember him telling me that to receive fruit in a stocking was a huge Christmas treat. He learned to make a bed so taut and wrinkle-free a coin would bounce on it. He learned to keep all of his dresser drawers neat as a pin there. He learned to expect little in life, and yet a lot was expected of him.
When he left the Children's Home, he served in WW II in many places in Europe. Right before he left, he married his teenaged sweetheart, my mother, Lucille, whom everyone called "Lou." Bud and Lou.
In a European foxhole, my father cried out to God with bullets flying overhead, promising God that if he survived this skirmish, he would live to serve Him.
When he returned home and started a family, within a short time he took his wife and three boys to church. He has been at the same church for over 50 years.
When I was born, my father was 40, quite an advanced age for a father in 1962. My mother says that my dad and their pastor jumped for joy when the hospital staff announced, "It's a girl."
My dad was a truck driver, but he was the antithesis of the stereotype, soft-spoken and gentle. He worked many late hours Monday through Friday. Many summer evenings, I would see his truck round the corner of our street, and I would start waving and jumping. When he got close to where I was on the sidewalk, I would take off and race him home.
When he came in, he scrubbed his face, ears, neck, arms and hands before my mom put dinner on the table. I watched him scrub himself until I thought he was going to peel his skin off. He wouldn't have thought of coming to the table unwashed.
He loved his La-Z-Boy and newspaper and still does. He paid his tithes faithfully every single week of my life, never once complaining. I never heard him utter a disrespectful or flirtatious remark about any woman, whether on TV or behind their backs. He respected my mother and other women too much to behave like that.
There was no one to teach my dad how to be a "good dad" by today's standards, and he certainly never saw it modeled at home or in the Children's Home, but he never mistreated me once, and I always knew he loved me and was proud of me.
Since my father loved me, he provided a safe home for me and met my needs. But more than this, he made sure I grew up knowing who Jesus is. I could not ask for anything more comforting than to know that someday I'll be with my father, and my father's Father, in a place where God heals every hurt, and there are no regrets, and there is only joy.
I am my father's only daughter. He is my only dad.
Happy Birthday, Dad.