Next week is special.  Yes, it is VBS (amazing, of course). Yes, it is Flag Day (who could forget?). But on Friday something else happens, something monumental.  My dad, Don Welch, turns 100 years old. It’s a little surprising that he is so close to this milestone, but he is very much looking forward to it. Triple digits. His kids and spouses will take him lunch on the big day.  And on Sunday, lots of grandkids and great grandkids will head over to Fullerton to celebrate him and his life.

That my dad made it (or looks like he’ll make it) to 100 is unexpected. He was not known to follow a healthy dietary regimen. He’s tried all kinds of fad diets. He did exercise. And played lots of golf. And the gene pool on his side of the family did not predict his longevity. His mom died before I was born, and his dad when I was like 6 or 7.

But my dad worked hard in life. He grew up in Glendale and enlisted in the Navy during WWII, serving as a corpsman in Washington D.C. in the dental section. After the war, he became a switchman on the Southern Pacific railroad until his retirement. He married my mom in San Pedro and they lived with her mom until her house on Santa Cruz became too small for their growing family. They bought a house in a new development in Downey, where my sister and were raised.

After they both retired they sold their Downey home and moved to Big Bear, fulfilling a lifelong dream.  They loved it there and we enjoyed visiting them (especially during our years in Indio). When their health became an issue (more my mom’s than my dad’s) they moved off the mountain and into a retirement home in Fullerton. He’s been at Morningside for over 20 years now, currently in the skilled nursing section. He has macular degeneration among other ailments.

On Friday he will turn 100. Two kids. Six grandchildren. Nine great-grandchildren. Not bad for a blue-collar switchman. My folks paid for all of my college education at Biola (I lived at home which helped) and my seminary education. I never had a college loan because of their sacrifice. He loves his kids and their kids and he’d love to be able to see what the great grandchildren look like (that bothers him most). I know he loves me because on my first Sunday at Peninsula found Ken Garland and asked him when I’d be getting a raise. My dad is the consummate tease. Embarrassingly so.

But I love my dad and want him to celebrate this very special milestone, rare in our family….or any family. So happy #100 dad.  I love you. Your friendship means the world to us all. Enjoy your day.