My father, Marvin L. Juhl, turns 83 years old today. He has never been a big birthday guy. It reminds him that he’s another year closer to the grave. At any rate, when you hit 83, you celebrate whether you want to or not. They are having Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake back home tonight. Good choice.
My dad is bull-headed, but that what makes him a wonderful man. I often joke with family and friends about the “Marv Juhl Lecture Series”, wherein my father will give you a long-winded monologue on his thoughts about anything and everything, especially when you ask his advice concerning a big decision that needs to be made. I received a number of front row seats to my father’s lecture series when I was growing up. When I had a fender bender in the high school parking lot, I heard a 30 minute lecture on being more careful. When I made a mistake in life, there was dad with another installment of the lecture series. He’s always right, you know. Just ask him! 😉
Then there are those times when he made a sacrifice for something he thought right. In the summer of 1988 the high school golf team was defunded by the school board. Money was tight and it was a cost-cutting move. There would have been one senior and six juniors, not to mention a handful of freshmen and sophomores, ready to play golf. We would have been a strong second in the conference behind perennial powerhouse Nashville. My golf coach went to a school board meeting to plead for the team. My dad wanted to be there too, and he told me I was coming with him. This was unprecedented.
We go to the meeting. Coach valiantly tries to get the team reinstated to no avail. Then my dad stood up and said a sentence that brought audible gasps from the gathering, including from the school board and my golf coach.
“Would you accept a personal check?”
Right there my father wrote a check for ~$1,600, knowing full well it never would be cashed. He worked for two summers to put together a benefit golf scramble to fund the high school golf program. After my class graduated, coach decided he didn’t want to coach anymore. Six seniors graduated. I remember my dad ripping up his personal check as a marker in case the money wouldn’t be there. He did it with a smile on his face.
My best high school memories were those men I was privileged to play with on the golf course. Friendships were formed. We were more than friends. We were brothers. Long bus trips bonded lifetime memories. Scores? Wins and losses? They are gone in the mist of time. Relationships? Still there, though not as close as the years go by. But now and again, every few years, and this weekend is one of those times, we get together, play some golf, and make some more memories.
My dad had much to do with it. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for it. After all, he taught me the game.
One more thing. My mom and dad drove with me to Fort Wayne, IN on September 9, 1998 when I moved into Dorm Q and began seminary formation for the Ministry. They stayed the night to make sure I got moved in and settled. When they left the next day, it was not my mother who cried when they left.
It was dad. He bawled like a baby. I had only seen that once before in my life: when he escorted my sister down the aisle at her wedding. Later he told me it was at that moment that he finally knew why I had come along when I did. I was meant to be given back to the Lord, as the Lord had given me to them as a gift in their late 30’s after my siblings were almost all grown and gone. Like Samuel, I was lent to the Lord as I was lent to my parents. I have always found that comforting, especially as my parents grow in years and as I grow in years and have children of my own.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.