BY DAN MILLER
October 3, 2006
He was born on October 3, 1906.
For years, I’ve thought I might find a reference to his name somewhere on the internet.
But apparently there is none.
Several times -- using Google and Yahoo and other search engines -- I've typed in Zachariah Daniel Miller Jr. (and all its variations) -- and he's just not listed anywhere.
Actually, I think I know the reason.
Daddy (or Zack, as most people called him) was never involved -- in any way -- with the world wide web.
When he died in 1993, email and the internet were still a couple of years away from being part of our everyday lives.
As a matter of fact, Zack probably never saw the internet.
As far as I know, he never sat in front of a computer or word processor.
Come to think of it, I don't recall even seeing him use a typewriter.
He liked to communicate with handwritten notes.... which he wrote in beautiful penmanship.
Zack knew nothing of CDs or DVDs....
He never heard of High Definition TV.... and, I'm fairly certain he never spoke on a cellular phone.
He and my mother never had a telephone answering machine.....
If you called and they weren't home.... you'd just have to call again later.
Zack never saw my youngest daughter.... his youngest grandchild.
I often wonder what he would have thought about me becoming a father again so late in the game, well into my 50s.
Of course, I know the answer.... he would have loved her the same as he loved every other grandchild, and great-grandchild.
Zack never traveled outside the United States.
Traveling abroad just didn't seem to interest him.
He was happiest and most relaxed being at home with my mother.
He was uneasy with "emotional displays" and probably would have been uncomfortable knowing that he actually "performed" (posthumously) at my oldest daughter's wedding a few years ago.
I had found an old audio tape he made of himself whistling along with "Just In Time" by Dean Martin, and we just couldn't resist using that tape for the first dance at the reception.
Zack never wrote a book, or had anything published, so you won't find any famous quotations anywhere attributed to Zack D. Miller Jr.
But he did occasionally write down a few thoughts, or send notes to his kids.
For example, he wrote suggestions on how -- when his time came -- my siblings and I should handle splitting up the things he left behind.
He wisely suggested that, instead of worrying ourselves over what each should take, that we attach a number to every item, then simply draw numbers, like a lottery.
Then we could swap and make deals, if we were so inclined.
We all thought that was a pretty good plan.... so, after he died in 1993, that's what we did.
Daddy was adamant that there be no discord over material stuff.
He wrote to us: "Don't take any of it too seriously. What has happened to me will some day happen to each of you, so you must decide if sometimes harsh words or misunderstandings are worth the relatively short time of ownership or control."
He also wrote: "All of you be happy, and remember, each day is the first day in the rest of your life. Live it as if it might be the last."
My brother and two sisters and I had a pleasant time together sorting through all the things my parents had gathered over their lives.
Using Zack's recommended lottery system, there was no arguing, no hard feelings, and no resentment.
We didn't take any of it too seriously.
We laughed and cried while swapping stories and stuff.
So here we are....... more than 13 years after my father's death....... and I'm sending this essay out there into cyberspace.
Zack is officially on the internet -- even with a couple of "quotations" attributed to him.
It seems appropriate for the 100th birthday of a really good man.
He outlived my mother, Frances, by four years.
Who knows -- he might have made it to 100 -- but I believe he preferred being at home with her.