17 October 2013

A Family Birthday

 

Please allow me a personal post  today.

 

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Ralph D. Cohen – 1923

 

This past September we celebrated my father’s 90th birthday – with a family weekend in his honor.   A 90th birthday is definitely something to celebrate – and we had cousins that flew in from California, New York, and even Tennessee for the event.   On Friday night – my sister held a BBQ for all the out of town relatives and on Saturday, we hosted a dinner party at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for our family, both in-town and out.  

I’d like to tell you about my dad – Ralph David Cohen.   He was born on September 11, 1923 (what a birth date to have!) in Chicago Illinois and grew up during the Great Depression.   When he says he walked to school in five feet of snow – we believe him!   Money was scarce and when he went to college, he worked at the fraternity as opposed to joining it.   Dad enlisted in the Navy during World World II, but it wasn’t his first choice to be a sailor.   If he had been in the Army or a Marine, he probably would have lived out his life in Chicago.  Instead, he met my mother on a leave in Galveston, Texas.  She noticed him mainly because of his sailor uniform – which she found particularly appealing – so it was a very good thing he wasn’t in Army khakis!  They married after the war and had my brother and later, me, a few years later.

 

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My dad in his handsome Navy uniform that my mother particularly liked!  Famous for having a moustache his entire adult life, this is a rare picture of him sans facial hair!

 

My mother’s family welcomed my dad into their small grocery business, which consisted of three stores on the east side of town of Houston.  Eventually our family merged our stores with another family and grew the business into a highly successful one that included not only groceries, but liquor stores, restaurants, real estate investments, vending machines, and even a home security business.

Along the way, there was much happiness and sadness too.  My mother passed away at a young age, as did my brother, but Dad found another soul-mate and he married Betty Rae over 40 years ago.   I gained two sisters in the deal!!   Life really does give you lemonade instead of lemons.

My father is an interesting man – to say the least.  He became a health and fitness fanatic years before it was a fad and he joined the first health spa in Houston, where he regularly worked out.  He continues his work-outs today and even still plays golf.   He easily gave up nicotine and caffeine years and years ago and his healthy lifestyle enabled him to overcome what could have been debilitating heart disease.  The only meat he indulges in is a lone hot dog once a year.    Obviously, he is the most disciplined man I know.  He never makes a wrong step.  He pays his bills before they are due and every thing is organized just so on his desk.  I know this because after college, I was his secretary for 8 years.  

A healthy body needs an alert mind and even though my dad has been retired for many years, he is still at his desk every day, busy with his computer while watching the financial networks.  Politicians on CNN get an earful from him too.  “You’re never too old to learn something new” – he says, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I ran into him at the Apple Store last week, signing up for One on One lessons.  Nor, I was surprised when he started a blog last summer for the residents of his summer condo, where he was just re-elected to the Board of Directors.  Nothing he does really surprises me.   The only shock would be if he ever slowed down.

 

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Dad and Betty Rae about 15 years ago.

 

Socially, he and Betty Rae are more active than Ben and I could ever hope to be.  They are always eating out with their many friends or taking in a new film at the Indie theatre.  He loves to go grocery shopping at Costco and my friends see him there more than me.   He and Betty Rae spend their summers away in Southern California and life really couldn’t be much better for them.

He’s a great dad, and is always supportive of me and also Ben and Elisabeth.  He’s my number one fan and I’ve tried hard to follow in his path, but I’m not quite as disciplined as he is, no matter how hard I try!    I know that I can always talk to my dad about anything that bothers me or worries me and in the end he will always make me feel better and will usually make me laugh.  I know he’ll always give me good, sound advice.  Most important, I’ve never heard him tell an untruth.

At his party, after all the toasts, he told his family and cousins that though he’s tried to do the right things and live the right way – luck played a large part in why he made it to 90.  Honestly, I’m not too sure about that!

 

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On Friday night we had a BBQ at my sister Cathy’s house.  Here is Dad with Betty Rae.

 

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My sister Cathy standing, cousin Scott and Melissa, her brother Reed Evins, and my brother in law Robert Wise.

 

 

 

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At the party, my nephew Jeffrey and his wife Brooke, sister Cathy, Robert, moi, Ben, Elisabeth and her boyfriend Rob along with Betty Rae and Dad.

 

 

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Dessert, birthday singing, and toasts.   As  you can imagine, it was a very emotional night!

 

 

 

 

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Out of town cousins who came in for the birthday party.

 

 

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Happy Birthday Dad – and many, many more!

I love you!

 

 

 

Here are a few older stories I’ve written about my family, if you are interested in reading more!

A story about Betty Rae HERE.

A story about my nephew and niece’s new house HERE.

A story about my shoe designing cousins HERE.

A story about my sister’s house HERE.

A very old story about my Houston cousins HERE.