My Dad is my hero. He is the most loyal, principled, honest, disciplined, intelligent, and humble human being I have ever known. He’s responsible for so many amazing accomplishments, I’m not sure anyone could even list them all, partially because he’s not one to talk about them (that humility that I mentioned comes into play), and partially because many of them he’s not allowed to talk about (they’re classified). His love for and faith in God has never wavered, even through being diagnosed with a horrible, debilitating disease, ALS. So when his birthday came around back in February, our family wanted to throw a special birthday party for him to show him how much he means to us. Problem is, we needed a theme, and it’s not easy finding a theme for a grown man that doesn’t scream cheesy. We racked our brains, trying to figure out how to make it special. One of his many accomplishments was his first degree from none other than West Point Military Academy. Here’s my handsome Dad; I believe this is his senior picture.
And another one from his graduation.
We wondered if we could use that as a theme, and kept that in mind as we went looking for supplies (a day before the party, true to form).
My sister, Sarah, found a copy of the cadet’s prayer, which we decided to use as inspiration.
If you know my Dad at all, take a minute to read this prayer, and I think you’ll agree with my sister when she said that this prayer is my Dad and represents exactly how he has lived his life, in particular the part that says, “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” If you ever had him as a teacher or had to go to his office for demerits at Crown College, then you know as well as anyone that he lived this principle. It’s such a good prayer, and he’s such an amazing man.
Along with the prayer, we decided to use the uniform and the West Point colors, black, gray, gold and white, as our theme.
We got three large white foam-core boards from Dollar Tree, and my sisters wrote out the words to the prayer as our main focal point. Dad had a few things from his days at West Point that we were able to use as props, like his yearbook, a West Point cadet figure (the same figure that has been married and remarried numerous times to our childhood Barbie dolls), and his bugle notes book.
My sister, Sarah, had the idea of making separate panels for all of the things he is to all of us, Father, Husband, Professor, Officer, Son, and Brother, with corresponding pictures. She and my sister Jessica used more foam core boards cut in half with picture frames, all from the Dollar Tree, to make these.
For the table, we used black table cloths from Dollar Tree again, made a runner from a piece of gray acrylic felt from Hobby Lobby, which Dad later said looked very much like the original uniform. We took a roll of black trim to make horizontal lines going down the length of the table, then added giant thumb tacks that we spray painted gold to finish off the uniform look.
My sister Sarah made Dad’s favorite meal, beans, greens and cornbread. Not just any beans and cornbread, though; like she always does, she kicked it up a notch (or 10). There were about 10 kinds of beans that she simmered with bacon and bay leaves and thyme and lots of other yummy stuff. Then she sautéed some poblano peppers and onions and smoked sausage to go over the beans and jalapeno cornbread. Lastly, she blanched the greens and added bacon. So good! I’m getting hungry just remembering it…the ultimate Southern comfort food.
For dessert, we made orange cupcakes with orange cream frosting (another favorite of Dad’s), then decorated them to match the table.
We got him a few memorabilia from West Point, and just thoroughly enjoyed this special time celebrating our amazing Dad together.
If you know and love my Dad, please continue to pray for him. We pray for a miracle, and we pray for a cure. If you will take the time to sign this petition to give people with ALS access to a very promising new drug before it is approved by the FDA, it would mean a lot to families like ours who are affected by this horrible disease. Dad has a fantastic support system through his church, and I sincerely thank all of you who have sent him cards and visited and encouraged him. It means more than you will ever know.