Ten years ago today my father, John Emslie, celebrated his final birthday at the age of 78. Two months later he died, after a couple years of health problems and having undergone recent surgery. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since he passed away, and I've been thinking about him a lot lately. The above image was from the card I did for Christmas of that year, 2001, in memory of my dear Dad.
While we certainly had the same father/son tensions and arguments that most guys have, all in all we were pretty close. My Dad was always there for me, supporting my desire to follow a career path in the arts, and always ready and willing to lend a hand with house repair work and such. He put up some insulation and wood paneling in my first townhouse, and I think that was something he liked doing a lot, as our family homes through the years always ended up with many rooms getting wood paneling!
One thing I'll be eternally grateful to my Dad for was his influence on my taste in music. When I was just a young kid, we had this wonderful old hi-fi - pretty much just a wooden box on four legs, containing a radio and felt covered turntable. Dad loved to play music around the house, and mostly he played jazz records. While he never tried to force his music tastes on me or my sister, I was just naturally drawn to such artists as Louis Armstrong and New Orleans clarinetist, Pete Fountain. Also, my Dad was a huge fan of Bing Crosby, so every Christmas, Bing's holiday album containing his classic "White Christmas" got plenty of airplay. To this day, I can't listen to Bing Crosby without thinking about my Dad. Funnily enough, I don't recall Dad ever playing any Frank Sinatra, but I know my interest in Frank was a direct result of all the great music I grew up listening to at home back in the 60s and 70s.
So, as this holiday season winds down, I just wanted to celebrate my Dad's birthday with this posting of that Christmas card illustration I did way back in 2001, as I fondly remember the good times we had and the influence that he had on my life.
Happy Birthday, Dad!