I felt that since June is the month in which we celebrate fathers, as well as the month of my own father’s birthday, I wanted to dedicate my first blog for openoureyes.org to him by sharing a little about him. My father was, and still is, a huge influence on my writing, as he majored in English in college, and later he had books and journals in my hands the moment I could read and write. Genetically I would say I inherited his eyes as well as his awesome sense of humor. My outgoing personality also mirrors him in many ways.
My father was born in raised in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1950. His first name is ‘Robert’…I believe this must have been one of the most popular names of the era, as all my friends growing up also had a ‘Bob’ for a dad, this was quite convenient for remembering their names. “Hi Bob!” So what about this Bob? Well, my ‘Bob’ is not just any old ‘Bob’ and he prefers ‘Biz’ anyways. How do you get ‘Biz’ out of ‘Robert’ you ask? It took me 30 years myself to figure out that one, “Dad how do you get ‘Biz’ from ‘Robert’?” I asked him a few years ago. “Marla it comes from the family last name, the first part ‘Biss’ equaled the nickname ‘Biz’.” Ohhhhhhhhhh Duh! Okay, where was my brain on that one?
All that time I was thinking it was some variation of ‘Robert’ that other ‘Robert’s never seemed to use. Suddenly I have the urge to Google the meaning of ‘Robert,’ according to www.sheknows.com/baby-names/name/Robert, ‘Robert: is a German baby name. In German the meaning of the name is: famed, bright, shining. An all-time favorite boys name since the middle ages.’ This definition is definitely fitting of my father, who spent most of his life as a house painter and mechanic; with a pretty impressive list of clients, I must say so (brag brag brag). He is bright and shining, more so brilliantly smart and uniquely ‘Biz,’ to me, his oldest girl. I’m the middle child of three, sandwiched between my older brother and younger sister. My father was always filled with fun stories, the kind that made me imagine he grew up with friends who ran amok similarly to ‘The Little Rascals.’
My father’s stories always make me laugh. I always like the ones about him going into the old junk lot on his street and causing trouble. Also the one where he used to drive around town backwards, and he would have everyone in town looking at him thinking ‘what is going on?’ He has a memory like an elephant, pulling up old names of good friends often and the mischief they caused, during the first third of his life. He has told a few several times, but I never mind hearing his stories again and again, and once and a while I love when he remembers one he has never told me before.
My father was enlisted into the Airforce in 1968 at the age of 18, a war many were protesting at the time. He served his four years in Vietnam, working as an airplane mechanic. He returned safely to the states and, as he told me, would spend the next several months in meditation and standing on his head, exchanging war for peace in his mind and heart. At this time he found Prem Rawat, a Guru from India who is very well known now for the beautiful messages of peace, and the keys to finding peace within one’s own self. You can read more about Prem Rawat at www.premrawat.com.
My father practiced Prem Rawat’s keys internally as well as externally. Three years he spent time at Prem Rawat’s side as the guru’s personal mechanic, traveling to New Mexico. After those three years he would approach the guru who would tell him it was time for him to go back into the world. My father would depart, from New Mexico, and head West to spend more ‘peaceful’ time in an Ashram in Los Angeles. My father would always remain a lifelong practice and follower of Prem Rawat, ultimately meeting my mother a few years later at a gathering for the Guru in Massachusetts. My father still practices the keys of peace today.
At the time he met my mother, my father had finally rekindled his strength and centered himself, and he felt it was a good time to return his focus to higher education. He used his G.I. bill to attend a top university, graduating high honors with a BA in English. He also was honored to be the school newspaper Editor, which was a huge success. He would later always share how important writing, reading and education are with us, his three children.
My father, the writer, the painter, definitely one of the coolest, and most intelligent guys I know, now had a great education, but he had a family to feed and went back into the working world as a house painter. He would take us to breakfast early on weekends, if we weren’t awake yet he would leave without us, and devastation would ensue. None of us liked missing breakfast with Dad! He would grab the day’s newspapers and order his coffee, I still savor the smell of coffee as it reminds me of him. My sister and I, who were most likely to wake early and be blessed to tag along with him, always chose our favorite pastry and a cup of hot cocoa, just leave the whip cream can please! We would read the newspaper with him. We would watch him greet people at the Coffee Shoppe by their name and with a smile. How did he seem to know every one and every one seem to know him?! “Wow Dad is so cool,” my sister and I would whisper to each other.
Knowing the people in town came down to his consistency and routine, yet when we went new places he still knew peoples names! I asked once how he did that, “Dad how do you know their name?” He joked at first about his psychic abilities, then let me in on a little secret which I still use myself, “Marla you see that name tag they’re wearing? Well I just read that and call them by their name. Then they feel like somebody.” Something I would always remember. Try it sometime and watch the person you are calling by name light up, at the grocery store, “Why thank you ‘Tom’ for bagging my groceries.” At the coffee shoppe, “Thank you ‘Brittany’ for making my coffee.” “Have a beautiful day ‘John’,” to the post master at the post office. Suddenly, you will see that there is a small spark that lights in them, a great example of a simple act of kindness, a spark I watched my father light often.
I have my father’s eyes, so a lot of the time I see him looking back at me when I look in the mirror. I hear his words reminding me to always be honest, to always use my manners, to work hard and to play harder, and to always say I love you to those that I love: this is all advice I recommend to most of humanity. He showed me the best way to sign a letter is with X’s and O’s, a loving way to give kisses and hugs when I cannot physically be there, and it just is cool, cool like my father.
So this one’s for you Dad! Thank you for all you do and have done. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for helping with my writing skills, I still remember you correcting my ‘Roses are Red’ poem at age six and I still have all my journals since age nine. Thank you for sharing your humor and kindness and inner peace with me. Thank you for being a loving father, unconditionally and in so many wonderful ways.
Happy Birthday Dad.D.O. and Happy Father’s Day! I am still waiting on that autobiography book that has been in the works for over 20 years. Love you always. Big X’s and O’s. XOXO from your loving daughter, me.