December 17, 2011

Triple Whammy Gifting: Guest Post by My Dad, Dallas Silverthorne

Today is my Dad's 62nd birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I asked him to write a blog post about his most memorable gift. I know, I'm a sweet daughter... what can I say?


Tia asked me if I’d send her a blog post based on what I thought was one of the many gifts I had ever received that stood out as impressionable. Admittedly, she had to explain what a blog post was. But I agreed.

The list was numerous, from childhood memories of simple, country Christmases, where my favorite gift was contained in a penny candy bag filled with nuts, an orange, an apple, and two chocolate covered cherries; to countless ones spent with my daughters.

But I decided to write the one I felt has impacted my wife, children and me more than any other.

For months, I had been dreading my 50th birthday. 50? And on top of it, my daughter had just announced I was going to be a grandfather. Grandfather? What happened to the debonair young man who could fly a Frisbee halfway across a football field and do kip-ups to impress his adoring daughters? Gray hairs were sprouting. I was falling asleep at the drop of a hat . . . no, before the hat fell! What was happening to me?

Two weeks before that dreaded day, I had a physical. I left more dejected. High cholesterol. Zocor prescription in hand. I jumped into my red corvette and stomped on the gas petal, spinning clear of the doctor’s office. Heading back to work, I vowed I would get to my 50th, telling anyone who would listen that I had gone 50 years without meds. I would remain in control as long as possible.

On the Friday before my birthday, my wife and youngest daughter announced they were taking me to dinner. Frankly, I wanted to go home, settle in my easy chair and be alone. But how do you tell two excited women that you wish they’d go alone? So I went.

They took me to a nice restaurant. It was way too crowded. Too many people dropped by with greetings. A lot of them worked for me, so I feigned warm greetings. Couldn’t they all see the sign on my forehead, “Middle aged crisis brewing! Beware!”

Halfway through dinner, I happened to look across the room and almost fell out of my chair. It was my two brothers and their wives.  My head couldn’t spin fast enough. I looked dead-on at my wife. “Tell me you haven’t planned anything for my birthday.”

From their adoring, excited looks I knew something was coming. And for one moment, I was furious. I felt deceived. Hadn’t I told them not to do this? Before I could chew into them, I saw my family moving my way, smiling broadly.

Everything I had been feeling brewed sour. The next day, the doorbell kept ringing. One daughter arrived from New York. The other from Chicago. My brothers called and asked me to meet them for lunch. I wanted to run, but instead, I acquiesced and went.

Finally my wife confessed there would be a small gathering. Small?  By 7pm, 125 guests had arrived. Despite how I was feeling, the evening proved wonderful. The roasting was kind, and I poured my humor out in rare form.

Afterwards, I realized how special the celebration had been:
1. Turning 50 didn’t hurt. In fact it was a blessing of love that still humbles me.
2. GE stock split 3 for 1, first time in my 27 year employment.
3. I made it to 50 without taking one ongoing medication.

Looking back, I realized that was a pivotal time, not just a half century birthday. It reminded me:
1. Life is short.
Dad and his first grand-daughter, Jackie
2. A grandchild was on the way. My legacy would go on.
3. The added stock value beefed up my savings to finalize my dream. Retirement.

And for the first time in my life, I embraced the fact that I had:
1. Missed the mark—leading an unbalanced life.
2. Missed out—not being available for precious moments.
3. Missed life—no time for anything beyond 7 to 7 work days.

More than anything in my life, I wanted to:
1. Spend more time with God.
2. Enjoy my family.
3. Give to others.

So in the end, and reflecting back today, I realize that my 50th birthday began a new venture in my life. A new beginning. A lot of blessings. One of the biggest gifts I’ve ever received. A triple whammy multiplied many times over because I’ve been present in love rather than being absent in guilt.


As you age, what is your greatest gift?


Larissa T. said...

That was beautiful! Happy Birthday to your father! Wishing many blessings && happiness his way.

Dana & Keith Newbrough said...

I love that Dad wrote a post and I remember this event all too well. What a wonderful celebration of Dad's birthday and a trip down memory lane. Great post!

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Larissa. He's a great guy!

Dana, He did a great job. Now if I can get Brian, Ed and Keith to write one, the family will be covered (except for the girls!). Hmmmm.

Thanks for stopping by!

Natalie Hartford said...

Awwww - what a beautiful post! I loved it...and so wonderful that your Dad is sharing in your blogging passion.
It's an amazing thing to be able to let go of the "dread" and embrace the gift that was being giving. A great lesson on being thankful and seeing the silver lining! Happy belated birthday - here's to rocking out 62 in all your fabulousness!

Tia Bach said...

Natalie - you are so sweet, and thanks so much for RTing this. Happy Holidays!