On June 2, 1929, a pebble was dropped into the ocean. That pebble produced ripple upon ripple, changing the earth forever.
That pebble had a name: Glenn William Bieritz.
Yes, it's true ... on June 2 of this year, my father became an octogenarian, which I think is Latin for "Dude who's been around for 80 years." He's seen a lot, my dad. He grew up mostly without a father, was captain of the football team AND played in the band, served in Korea, got his pilot's license, survived a divorce, helped my mother battle cancer once and win and a second time and lose, helped four daughters grow up, worked 46 years for the same company (the last 16 without a single sick day) and is my brother's best friend and caregiver.
Last night, about 80 of my dad's best friends gathered in Naperville to celebrate this man. Ten tables of people who, for one reason or another, love my dad. Each table told a story of how Glenn has touched their lives. There were those who've been adopted into the family, those whose houses he helped build, those who have looked to him for guidance and those who simply admire his faith. Everyone in that room has been changed because they have known my dad.
I am awestruck by him. He is not perfect, and has never required that others be. He has never judged me, and I am sure the same can be said of most everyone he's ever met. He is simply an amazing man.
He is the most generous person I know, in every way. He listens. He supports. He shares is inimitable spirit with anyone who will share theirs with him. He cares equally for everyone. He gives of his time, his talents, his experience and his wisdom to everyone, without reservation. That is just who he is.
My dad has often referred to me as a "free spirit." I haven't always been sure of what that meant, but I have always had the feeling that he means it as a compliment. This is a man who can disagree completely with my opinions, but still give me time to explain them. As the tree-hugging hippy among a more straight-laced family tree, still he never wavered in treating my beliefs with respect, listening to my point of view even while he thinks I'm, frankly, nuts.
I admire a great many people in this world, but none more than my father. If you have someone like Glenn Bieritz in your life - or if you're lucky enough to have the genuine article - you know as well as I do that the world is a better place because he's here. The world could use more like him.
This pebble in the ocean, this man admired by so many, is the finest man I have ever known. Happy birthday, Dad.