For my father
(September 19, 2009)
I must say that unequivocally, the coolest thing about growing up is that magical moment when you realize that you like your parents. Really like them, in fact. That instance when all of a sudden it becomes clear to you that, beyond the strong bond of family love... you find them interesting, and, goodness gracious!, you even have some stuff in common.
The earliest memory I have of my father is lying on our family room floor, building "houses" with these big wooden blocks that we had. I remember that I didn't do too much building (although, I don't particularly remember knocking anything down, either, so maybe I was out of that stage?), but I remember sitting there mesmerized, watching as he built a sturdy foundation, and then went on to build tall walls to protect "the inhabitants" from the elements. (And, as I remember back, I believe that the inhabitants were probably a family of Fisher.Price 'Little People'.... The one in green was always the daddy, and the one in blue was always the mommy...) We set up clean white "pizza tables" for our pint size friends to eat around. ... and I remember that several years down the road we had similar adventures with legos :) This visual example of building a strong foundation & protecting and providing for family is symbolic to me of his role in my life, and in our family.
("Talking to Daddy", circa 1986)
(My first birthday, May 1987)
One of my other favorite childhood memories of my father was reading together.
(Reading with Daddy, circa 1986 ...do you see the title of the book? How appropriate!)
Every Saturday morning we would go to the library together (my dad would take me & my sister while my mother ran errands and did other "Saturday morning stuff"), and every night he would read us a bedtime story. We read all sorts of things together: the Paddington Bear stories, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys ... and even some of the Babysitters Club books (which I don't imagine were particularly his favorites...heh) I know it was definitely a favorite part of the day for my sister & myself, and he seemed to find great joy in it as well. Every once in a while he would sneak in his own comments, just to see if we were paying attention; and Paddington stories were especially fun , because when Paddington would get into his ridiculous (and inevitable!) snafus we woud all get to laughing so hard that it could take us 5 minutes to finish a sentence!
(Cycling together, circa 1987)
As got older we began to recognize the other interests that we shared, which centered primarily around music, faith & exercise. Starting (I think) as early as late elementary school, I started to be interested in the same kind of music as my father (our tastes ranged from country music to Christian rock to classics like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Clapton), and he indulged my interests by making casette tapes for me to play in my boom box. My mother tolerated our music, but she had her own favorites, so this was a special thing that we shared. Several years later, we started playing guitar around the same time, and would carpool to lessons. (I'll admit it right off the bat: my dad was a lot more diligent about practicing than I was, so I think he probably looked forward to lessons a lot more than I did!)
And in most recent years, we've shared a common interest of walking. My family has always prioritized movement (my sister and I didn't watch too much tv growing up... we've only picked up our
bad tv habit in recent years...), which I know comes from the fact that my parents used to be very active "pre-kids": lots of walking & cycling. After I got engaged, my dad really started to get interested in walking: regularly logging 4 or 5 miles before work. And this was fantastic because, while my mother & I would languish and chat on our walks together; my father would push me (he's fast! Most times his miles are under 15 minutes!)
(Exhausted but impressed with our abilities after the 12 miler, August 2010.)
(Male walker 5k award winner!!! September, 2010.)
And while all these things are wonderful, and I'm proud to have these things in common, perhaps the most important thing that we share is our faith. The older I get, the more grateful I am that I have my father in my life as an example of my faith in action: to me, he really walks the talk. My father has always been an active participant in the church, helping in worship (ushering and delivering flowers) as well as seeking out opportunities for personal growth through Sunday school classes and retreats. Although he may not talk about his faith all the time, you can tell by his quiet strength exactly what his foundation is built upon. His support (as well as his love for contemporary worship music!) was key in getting me to the church I am involved with today ... and for that I am grateful beyond words (it's been a long journey... but I know without a doubt that this is where I belong: This is my home. Even though I am so far from having my life figured out, it's absolutely life-giving to have that one piece in place :) Furthermore, I know that it's from this deep faith that he has led our family with love all these years. (This video is fantastic, and really seems poignant to this discussion.)
(September 19, 2009)
And I can think of no better day to thank him & celebrate all that he is to me and my family.
"Thank you for all you've done in my life & continue to do. I am so blessed to have you as my father. I know that the future years will only bring us closer, and be filled with sweet memories."
"Happy Birthday, Daddy."