Today is the feast day of St. James and my dad James Lester Niermeyer’s birthday. He would have turned 56 in 2011. Two years before that I got to spend an enjoyable day with him which I describe in My Dad’s Final Birthday post. The rest of our immediate family was up in Rochester, NY, my parents’ hometown, on his birthday, so Kevin and I got to spend it with him. It was a memorable day and became even more special to us when we looked back knowing it was his last birthday on earth. For some time after that, I kept the message saved on our answering machine that he left that evening.
While in the car, Kevin and I listened to the “Stroll Down Memory Lane” CD mix I put together for my family members a few years ago. Each song on it I associate with a group of memories from when my sisters and I were growing up. The first song on there, “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel always makes me think of this breakfast place we frequented in Dallas, Texas, called The Circle Grill.
It was a kind of small place with good waffles where my sister Mary (who we called Katie back then) and I had fun taking turns picking out songs on the mini jukeboxes at each booth. Even though my dad traveled a lot for business and ate at restaurants all the time, he still liked to take our family out to eat often.
The ZZTop songs included I memorized early on because my dad used to work-out to their record. I still have visions of dad doing crunches and reps to “Can’t Stop Rockin’” and “Velcro Fly.”
My dad tended to do things all-out. He worked hard, exercised hard, played hard, prayed hard, and laughed hard. He was super-organized, a very experienced troublemaker, an accomplished athlete, a successful businessman, had a great sense of humor, and quite the repertoire of stories from back in the day. He could somehow manage to make us laugh in the midst of some really stressful times. His hilarious antics are firmly planted in the minds of his brothers, my mom, sisters, and I, as well as his many nieces and nephews.
I’m sure Dad, Nana, Pa, Uncle Bob, Aunt Florence, and John are keeping the saints laughing. We love you and miss you, Dad!