My dad. Beloved grandfather, “Pooh.” Great grandfather. Loving husband. Friend to many. Philosopher. Outdoorsman. Scientist: Meteorologist. Family man. There is so much I have learned from my father, and while I have dedicated this post to what I have learned, I should go on the record and say…..there is still SO MUCH MORE that I could add, and SO MUCH MORE to still learn from him!
I love you dad, Happy Birthday!
A Love of Learning. When we were younger, this love of learning was modeled through his “philosophy group meetings.” A small group of men who read and discussed some of the most complicated texts ever written by ancient and current philosophers. Later, and to this day, he has turned to religious studies, not just the bible, mind you, but also complicated texts by ancient and current theologians. He is a leader in his church. An elder. Someone who others turn to for advice. And for those of us that question, for those that are seekers like me, he is a compassionate listener, no judgement, helping us process our thoughts and beliefs. I love talking to my dad about books! I can say with complete confidence that my dad, along with his own father, are possibly the smartest people I know.
A Love of the Outdoors.
We camped – We pitched a smelly canvas tent in the most remote places in Alaska, driving the roads as far as they would go.
We backpacked – Trips into Mt. McKinley. To lakes whose names I do not remember and now, as a parent myself, I am in awe of what went into making that happen.
We fished – I followed my dad along the edges of some of the most remote creeks and rivers in Alaska, battling devils club and mosquitos alike. After I learned that I would have to kill (with a rock) and clean my own fish, I started bringing a book instead of a fishing pole, but I went. “Quietly, because the fish can hear you,” I spent countless hours with my siblings and my dad with my toes in the water watching him cast, “flick, flick, flick,” with his fly rod, creating life long memories.
We hiked – Day hikes on trails all around Anchorage. Into the Chugach Mountains. Flat Top. Bird Creek.
We skied on Nordic skis on beautiful groomed trails, lit at night, shadows and light creating a sense of magic, and we skied through wild woods in our back yard.
We skied downhill – frosty white days when we skipped school and skied together, Mt. Alyeska. No crowds, no lines, an empty mountain all to ourselves.
We built a cabin – Built if from scratch – everything from cutting the trees, to peeling the bark to arranging them neat, like Lincoln logs, into a snug little cabin at Indian River. 26 miles by the flag stop train out of Talkeetna. Be sure to carry a bear gun.
Just last night we had friends over for dinner who asked, “Did you ski?” And I simply said, “Yes. I grew up on skis.” And I realize I did. I grew up on that mountain. I grew up in those woods. I grew up along the side of a creek, a river, a lake. I grew up in the most beautiful place in the world, and I could see that because it was brought alive by my dad.
He taught us the importance of family.
Although he and my mom both worked wacky shifts over the years, we had regular meals together. Every night, six o’clock. Simple meals. Loud, chattery meals. Joyful meals. Squabbely meals. Pancake breakfasts on the weekend and as soon as we were 12 we were allowed to drink coffee with our pancakes. Tasters choice instant. By the time I graduated from high school, we were grinding our own beans from freshly roasted coffee – our tastes really changed!
My mom grew vegetables and my dad kept the yard beautiful. Beautiful! It was the best one on the block, and we all had to help. Raking, trimming, mowing (good old fashioned push mowers back then) moving the sprinkler… it all paid off on those long summer nights when we played for hours outside, or spread our blankets to sunbathe on that beautiful lawn.
Crisp fall Sundays meant football games, all of us piled on that orange plaid couch, watching, but not talking. Definitely no talking. And in the winter, after our homework was done, we could pile back on that couch and watch “The Wonderful World of Disney.”
But best of all would be some old black and white movie. A bowl of popcorn and no “pause” button. My dad knows them all. Every actor, actress, release date and story line. Every genre from detective movies to scary movies, the big splashy epic ones, to the westerns. He knows them all. This interest was born as a young boy and a love of the Saturday Matinee, going with his grandfather to just about every movie that came to town.
This love of family was also evidenced by the fact that we had regular trips to stay with our family “down south.” Flying was expensive them. And we were a family of six. Yet we did it. We flew every other summer to see our grandparents. Our Aunts and Uncles. Our cousins. Big loud joyful occasions where the adults drank and laughed and the cousins roamed the neighborhoods and arroyos. This continues to this day. He and Linda host so many get togethers! Christmas dinners. Seahawks parties. Special occasions all spent at their warm and comfortable home, card tables set up to accommodate the growing family. How I love getting together at their home with my siblings and their children.
He is a beloved grandfather. “Pooh.” When the kids were babies he would walk with them at restaurants when they got fidgety, when we visited him, he played games with them, they always had his complete and undivided attention. Now that they are older, mostly grown, they come to him with ideas and for advice, and it hasn’t changed, they have his complete attention. Each one of them feels special to him in their own way.
On March 19 my dad will turn 85! A huge milestone and worthy of note. I just wish him the best birthday. If you know him, I hope you will wish him a happy birthday too!