Happy 70th Birthday to My Father!!!! The Dad I Assume Everyone Has, and Then Am Surprised When I Learn They Do Not

Happy Birthday Dad! I know you said you were all set and didn’t need me to do anything, but I am writing a blog post, so HA! I tricked you and am making a fuss anyway!!!

Years ago when I was a little kid, my parents had some friends over for dinner and I was sitting in a corner listening in and I got to hear my Dad’s speech about infidelity. His take was, essentially, where do people find the time??? Because you get up in the morning early to make the kids breakfast and pack their lunches, then go to work all day and work flat out so you can be home by 6, and then there’s homework, and dinner time, and then that goes right into baths and bed. When do you have a minute to spare to have an affair????

I think the answer is, the guys having affairs are not the same as the ones making their kids school lunches and rushing home at 6 to help with homework. But I can see where Dad is coming from, because in his mind that is just what all Dad’s do. He’s not a special super Dad, he’s just average, obviously this is what a father does.

Similar things that my Dad thinks of as just standard normal basic Dad-stuff: paying 100% of college tuition for both children by emptying his life savings, building me a dollhouse from scratch, getting up at 6am on weekends to drive my sister to her special tutoring sessions, taking time off work for PTA meetings, birthday parties, and important doctor appts. Fixing my car so many times I can’t count, driving me 6 hours each way so I can get a COVID shot, making me coffee and breakfast every single day that I stayed at their place during the pandemic, helping me move a piano, hanging all my pictures on the wall, taking care of my dog, and most of all just listening to me when I talk about literally anything. When I was tiny, he listened while I talked about fairy tales and Wizard of Oz. Now, he listens when I talk about Indian film and is actually interested!

Also “normal” for him is that he is turning 70 years old this year and wants/expects absolutely nothing. He and Mom are gonna have a day of Adventures (so far, I have a photo of them on the big Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and I think next they are going to the top of the Sears Tower). No party, no presents (although of course we are getting him a present), no fuss. Because why? He’s nothing special!

He sent us this photo about an hour ago, the Ferris Wheel really is super cool

So let me go through the “nothing special” things my father has accomplished in the past 70 years:

Got an engineering degree from the best engineering school in America at the same time he successfully lobbied to change state laws in order to increase voter access, all before turning 21.

Worked his way through law school by driving a cab

Delivered pizzas for 2 years with a law degree because he refused to bribe his way into a government job.

Worked at draining uninteresting government jobs for 40 years in order to support his family.

Bought his own pens to bring into those government jobs so he wouldn’t accidentally use a Government Pen for personal purposes and thereby go against his morals.

Retired and immediately began teaching at inner city community colleges for less than a living wage because he just loves teaching

Retired from teaching and immediately began volunteering at 2 separate free tutoring centers for children, one through the public library and one at a refugee center.

Devoted every free moment to caring for his aging father to the point of never going on a vacation longer than 4 days so he would be available.

Reacted to the death of his father by adopting an entire refugee family in order to fill his sudden “free time”.

And finally, is reading this post now thinking “no, that’s not true, she’s making me sound much better than I am, I could have done/should have done so much more”


14 thoughts on “Happy 70th Birthday to My Father!!!! The Dad I Assume Everyone Has, and Then Am Surprised When I Learn They Do Not

  1. Oh Margaret…so much love for this not-so-ordinary father…it makes me tearing up and wanting to hug your father for all the love and consideration he showed (and still shows). What a lovable man you are, Herr Redlich, in the deep sense of your family’s name. I wish you the health and humour to fully enjoy your birthday and the next year of your life…and thanks for Margaret & sister!…and a handwave to your wife and Margaret’s & sister’s mom!


  2. My dad is also the one who actively listens when I talk about Indian film. Glad it’s a little more universal, and glad you have someone like that. Happy Birthday!!!


  3. Wishing your father a very Happy Birthday! You’ve described a wonderful person and I hope he knows that, definitely not an ‘ordinary’ father.

    The photos from the Ferris Wheel and Sears Tower totally remind me of my whirlwind but awesome trips to Chicago!


    • The refugee family is doing great! Everyone is in English classes, the kids are in school, and they’ve got a super good network built up of fellow refugees. And the oldest boy is gonna get married once they figure out how to get his fiancee over here. It’s kind of like kids, if you do your job right eventually they won’t need you.


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