"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."
~Clarence Budington Kelland
There are a lot of things I could thank my dad for. Braces, college, my first car, my own phone line when I was sixteen, etc. There are a lot of things I could thank my dad for. Today, on Father’s Day, I don’t want to thank him for things. I want to thank him for the things he has taught me:
How to drive a stick shift and handle icy conditions. He made his intentions clear from the beginning that all three of his girls would be good drivers… we still argue to this day about who has more road skills.
How to build a fire, read a map, and the importance of tying things with the appropriate knot. A retired boy scout, he hid his own disappointment in our clear disinterest for all things, well, boy scout.
Not to be scared of aliens. “Come with me,” he said over his shoulder as he headed out into the black night. I hadn’t slept in two nights, gripped with a confident panic that I had been, or would soon be, abducted by aliens. “Lay down and look up,” he directed pointing down at the lawn. Already formed dew sparkled in the glow that stretched onto the lawn from our house, nestled in about thirty acres of thick woods. I could hear nothing. Above me the sky was alive with stars and satellites. “See up there? That is the big picture. Your human brain can’t even start to imagine how much space is out there. It would be delusional for any human to believe that Earth is the only sliver of intelligence in existence. Of course there are aliens.” With that, he walked back in the house.
Not to slam doors. His method when we did? Taking the door off the hinges. Problem solved.
Camping. I dare anyone to trump my dad on this one. I didn’t even realize that camping happened in any other fashion other than how we camped growing up: three families, six tents, two ski boats, hammocks and lawn chairs scattered our own private point along the sandy banks of Lake Roosevelt. Dozens of rubber maids held everything we needed, ropes weaved in and out of the ponderosa pines making a home for wet beach towels, Coleman lanterns and tarps (for the occasional thunder storm).
To question a man who didn’t own a Swiss Army knife and know how to build/fix things.
How to check a car’s oil. Yes, the stereotypical sixteen year old has know idea what that is or why it needs to happen.
That road trips should start early (first ferry early). His tenacity on the road also taught us all how to hold it as he continually promised there would be another rest area “right around the next corner”.
That Bruce Springsteen is indeed “the boss”.
To embrace my inner techie-nerd.
My dad has given me a lot of things, but the things that he has given me that mean the most? All the things that are not things at all, they are just the things that make me Gary’s daughter.