Last week, I was thinking for some reason about what makes February important for me and I remembered that my dad’s birthday was on the 25th. And as I thought about it a little more, I realized it was my dad’s 70th birthday. Upon finding out that my mom was going to be in Georgia during the momentous occasion and thus no one would be there, I knew what I had to do – drive over to Denton, NC in the evening to help him celebrate. It’s a good 1.75 hour drive, but it was well worth it.
I got to the house before Dad got home from music practice, so I carefully hid my car in the back yard and hid in one of the rooms in the house. After an hour of waiting, my dad arrived. I called the house on my cell phone and began talking with him, and then burst into the living room. He was quite surprised and excited to see me. After talking for a little bit, I gave him some presents.

I got him a music card with a banjo playing. He got a kick out of that. I had not realized when I packaged the gifts that I had 7 different gifts for him, so he got one for each decade. Gift #1 was a pack of pencils for his Sudoku books, a pack of markers to write on CD’s, and an iTunes gift card. Dad has never had one of those, so I am introducing him to the digital music age. Gift #2 was a rechargeable battery set. Gift #3 was one I was taking a risk with, but it paid off – it was a WALL-E DVD (more on that later). Gift #4 was the one he may have taken the most interest in – an Oxford College Dictionary. He has an old Webster’s Dictionary from the 1950’s that is worn out and out of date. He immediately set out to find a couple of words from the O’ Reilly Factor. Gift #5 was a 256 CD Wallet. I got him a CD Burner for Christmas so he could transfer all his recorded audio tapes to CD and this provided him a place to store them. Gift #6 was a new 3 set phone system. This may help Mom out more than Dad, but as he goes to different areas of the house at times and the phone they have is old, he appreciated this. Gift #7 was a Sony CD Discman. If he’s going to have everything on CD now, he’s gotta have a good CD player. He enjoyed every gift and took time between each to discuss them and look them over well.

We then fixed some popcorn and coffee (an odd combination but it worked well), and we sat down to watch his new WALL-E DVD. I should say that one of my Dad’s negative characteristics is it is difficult to watch a movie with him. He talks and asks questions throughout the entire affair. But this one was different. His comments were few and he quite enjoyed it. He remarked that Andrew Stanton, the director, had such an imagination to bring a movie like this to life and make it work. He even wanted to watch the behind the scenes stuff. As WALL-E has become one of my favorite movies ever, it was great to enjoy it with my Dad.

Before returning to Raleigh the next day, we spent lunch at Bojangles, the one and only fast food restaurant in all of Denton. It was great to enjoy some more time with him before leaving this place that was my home for 18 years. As I got out to my car, he told me once again how happy he was to have me over and how proud he was of all we were doing for the Lord at camp. And so, we went our separate ways.

My father has seen a whole lot in his 70 years on this earth. He was born just as World War 2 began. He was given a Martin guitar by his uncle Max Lanier of the St. Louis Cardinals and still has that guitar to this day. He was working in Lanier’s Grocery as he listened to the radio broadcast of North Carolina winning the 1957 National Basketball Championship (that game went into triple overtime and secured their undefeated season). My dad enrolled into UNC the next semester. It only lasted a few semesters, though, and soon he enlisted in the Air Force and found himself in Albuquerque, NM for a few years. He finished duty just before the first troops were sent to Vietnam. He married my mother in 1967 and this Miller family was begun. He worked various jobs over the years, the one most notable to me was the Goodyear Wire Factory in Asheboro. He retired in 2003 and has enjoyed his time at home and practicing and performing with his bluegrass band. For him, it’s been a simple life, but a good life. The biggest thing that ever happened to my dad was in the early 1970’s, when an evangelist visited him and shared the Gospel with him. He received Jesus Christ as his Savior. He has not been the perfect father, but he’s my father and I love him and hope that God has a lot more in store for him.

For whatever reason, I am currently listening to the WALL-E Soundtrack by Thomas Newman. So beautiful.