My dad is…

humble. That is the first thing that came to mind when I settled in to write this…strangely though, it’s almost as if it wasn’t in my mind until the pen hit the paper, but now that I look at it, there is nothing that I could write that better describes how I think of my dad. I think that’s how inherent it was. He is not perfect, but what he is is a hard worker, a faithful family man and so sincere in his relationship with the Lord. When my dad is struggling with something, he does not attempt to veil it from his family. He is open and honest, but also keeps it to himself. It is a hard balance to find, but I hope I someday can reach that balance with the success my dad has. My dad is a pillar in our community, even if it’s behind the proverbial scenes most of the time. He is a man of service. As an English teacher and coach at Weed High School (get your snickers over with, please…) he pours his best into students and shows genuine care for them. He inspires them and challenges them. I’ve heard many people say they have, at one point or another, been scared of my dad during their high school career (definitely more than one point if they played football), but I always sense it is a healthy fear built out of respect. Even though I never had the privilege of having my dad as my teacher, I thank God that he is my dad. I would take that over teacher any day.

My dad also has faithfully served in and through our church for many years. He is respected and loved by the people there. I am so so thankful for that. I’ve also seen my dad serve our family and make sacrifices for us so many times. He stood by our grandparents (my mom’s parents) through their battles with cancer and eventually in death. Never out of obligation, but always out of pure love and honor for them. Grandpa Gerry and Grandma Ruth loved him like a son. What a special thing for a daughter to witness! That has taught me so much and I know I am still learning from it. That love, care and service by my dad has lasting implications for his children. My dad and his dad are also extremely close, as he was with his mom before Nonni passed away about a year ago. Not only has that allowed me to have a dear, close relationship with all my grandparents, but it taught me how to treat my own parents. I aspire to be like my dad in many ways, but especially in that. These lessons are invaluable.

I often have memories of my dad triggered by little things. If someone asked me, what is a special memory of you and your dad from your childhood, the following memory would would move at lightning speed to the front of my mind. Our living room at our old house on Oregon Street, dimly lit by lamplight – Carla and me in dad’s thin, worn, softest-ever Sac State t-shirts that go down to our knees – Keith Green blaring on the big silver stereo with huge silver knobs – dad singing all the words (even the silly spoken parts) to “Letter to the Devil” – Mom is away at choir practice so naturally dad lets us (sometimes even lifting us up himself) onto the coffee table to dance – total freedom! Next memory. We are at Lake Siskiyou or Medicine Lake – dad bends down underwater so far I think he might drown and puts me on his shoulders – then he springs up and sends me jetting into the water – I always know it’s coming but it’s constantly a surprise. Cut to dad walking down the aisle of the church in overalls and a straw hat as the Prospector in a VBS skit – he slowly and carefully repeats one of his most memorable lines, one that will go down in history, in his perfected wobbly, crotchety old man voice: “Deeeeeeear Diry.” I still ask him to say that line sometimes, but he only does it when he’s in the right mood or can conjure up the voice, so when it does happen I treasure that morsel and let it tide me over for quite some time. I pull up images of my dad leading VBS outings of rambunctious jr. highers to waterfalls and caves, dealing with crying girls and yellow-jacket stung boys. I see him packing our van beyond capacity with camping gear every summer before our beloved family trips. I see him playing three flies up with us, teaching us how to throw a football or hiking Mt. Eddy… patiently allowing us to swim. in. every. lake. on the way up.

I’ve fought with my dad many times, but somehow those aren’t the memories that stick at all. It’s like trying to get oil to stick to velcro.

Once, driving as a family in our van, we passed a boy on the street that I had a crush on. He had a crush on me too and we had been having “secretive” communication that year. It was the first boy who ever had shown a serious interest in me and I naively thought my dad had noooo idea about it. When we saw him on the street, I probably blushed. My dad spoke into the silence of that moment and said, to his four daughters but really to me, “girls I want you to learn to guard your hearts.” It was one simple sentence but it has had a heavy impact on my life. I often hear those words sounding in my head, and I am so grateful for that.

Thanks for making me proud to be your daughter, dad. I love you!

I also got my eye-closing-in-every-picture ability from dad, I think.
<– My dad and me at the Summit of Mt. Eddy. I also received my eye-closing-in-every-picture ability from dad, I think.

Spill

I know it’s been ages since I’ve written. I don’t know what’s stopped me. Well, yes I do. Everything else that could possibly grab my attention stopped me. It’s a little devil (yes, devil) I like to call procrastination. It starts out slow, but once it grows it can become quite the enemy. Why is it so hard to pick up my weapon (i.e. my pen and/or keyboard) and fight it? Anyway. Whenever I force myself to write again I never really have a topic in mind… so I will just catch you up on my life and write out whatever comes to mind. I hope it’s not too boring for you.

It’s been snowing here in Bend lately – lovely, white, fresh flakes falling from the sky. I absolutely love it, because, after all, what is winter without snow? I absolutely adore being able to enjoy each season for its unique aspects and snow is definitely winter’s unique aspect (for me, anyway. You might enjoy the ice… who knows? The only way I enjoy ice in the winter is if it is in the form of an icicle.) You see… fall has crisp air and colorful leaves. Spring has a delicious fragrance in the air, warm rains and blooming flowers. Summer has, well, the sun and its glowing golden warmth… and swimming and camping. Winter has snow. Comparatively, winter has a much shorter list of uniqueness than all the other seasons, but it’s a big one and thank God we have it to get us through an otherwise dreary season. It really makes up for everything. Scraping my car, freezing cold hands for months on end, runny noses, slipping on icy surfaces, fish tailing in my car… you get the picture.

I painted my fingernails bright pink this weekend, to make up for the dismal weather. It really is a rather useful mood booster. You see, last Wednesday I woke up to a quiet, soft covering of snow, which muted the scenery outside and made everything pure. It was so light and fluffy that if not for the cold, I may have mistaken it for the filling of a down comforter. In fact, I probably could have blown on my car and had it flit off my windshield with no trouble at all. But then came the temperature change… and the (cringe, I almost don’t want to say it) rain. (dum dum dum) It washed away all my lovely white! It turned it into slush and mud and puddles and in the morning there were nothing but ugly globs of frozen dirty frozen slush all over the ground. It crunched under my feet, mocking me cruelly with the reminder of what lay there yesterday: a soft blanket much kinder to my feet. Silly rain. It was like a slap in the perfect complexion of winter’s face.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love rain. I really, really, really do. I just don’t like it when it comes with the sole purpose of ruining my snow. There really is something exhilarating about having the rain pour down so hard that you are drenched if you walk outside for more than thirty seconds. I love hearing the trees thrash and seeing the shadows of the angry branches move across my wall. I love hearing the wind whistle outside and wonder… what if that tree thrashed juuuust enough to come down hard on my little roof? The possibility of danger is exhilarating. Why is that? Why do I like to be scared? The excitement of a storm is just another thing I love about winter, rain or snow or ……….even frozen rain. (Did you sense my hesitancy in adding that last bit?)

Well enough about the weather. Another thing that’s been on my mind lately is how much I miss my little brother JB. I call home and talk to him on my lunch breaks as much as I can, but as a boisterous seven year old, it’s hard to keep his attention on the phone for long. If I want to listen to him (which is quite different than a conversation), I just bring up Legos or battle droids or Batman. Then I’m in for a detailed account of what he’s been scheming with Dan lately, or the battle he just had with the meanest heavily armored robot in the world (aka Carla), and how he defeated her with “no trouble at all, KK.” After he’s finished with his lively explanations, he says something like, “weeeelllll KK I’m just gonna hand you off to Mary now. BYE!” And before I can say a thing, I hear mom, with a slightly caught-off-guard tone in her voice. “Karen? Um…. Sorry about that.” I really love that boy and I wish I could see him a lot more than I do. I’m thinking about going home for a weekend soon for just that reason! Whenever I see him he gives me a “JB hug” which must surpass the standard set by the last JB hug I received. It consists of him running toward me at full speed, jumping up into my arms, wrapping his arms and legs around me as tight as he possibly can and squeezing until he is red in the face. Recently he added a kiss to each of my cheeks and to my forehead. I wonder what the next new and improved JB hug will be like. I love him to the farthest undiscovered planet and back, to borrow one of his many beloved expressions.

I guess I can wrap this post up by saying that winter brings many good things, and I am trying to acknowledge them all in order to keep that set as my default perspective.