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