"The debt of gratitude we owe our mother and father goes forward, not backward. What we owe our parents is the bill presented to us by our children."
Piggy-back rides…miles and miles of piggy-back rides.
Planting vegetable gardens each year, specially designed to allow pig-tailed skipping down the Yellow Brick Road of our back yard, room enough for Dorothy and Toto too.
Mountain Bars, Pop Rocks and trips to the White Tail deer refuge.
Homemade sledding – down the logging roads – who would have thought what a great sled an old highway speed sign and some rope could make?
T-ball lessons and playing catch in the front yard.
Pretending that tool set is pretty much the BEST gift he’s ever gotten. Until Christmas next year…when receiving an even BETTER – and in no way the same – tool set.
Ushering me into the no-training-wheels days.
Car-ride lessons detailing the mysteries of highway engineering and road maintenance. The median stripes REALLY are five feet (+) long! (don’t go lay down in the street to check)
Trekking through the Olympics with llamas. More piggy-back rides.
The Handy-Man for All Occasions – McGyvering any at-home fix-it need, teaching by example how not to open a paint can with a pocket knife or even out a ladder on a staircase using books as shims. (again, don’t try this at home)
Billy Joel – Storm Front (i.e. “We Didn’t Start the Fire”)
The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over
My adolescent courage as we move through the line at Silverwood, getting closer and closer to the Corkscrew – my induction into extreme roller coaster enthusiasm – the only one brave enough to ride just about anything along with me.
A dog man. But also a two parakeets, several hamsters, and (countless) stray kitten(s) man.
Shared tastes in books. Taking me to see “Jurassic Park” – the original, one and only. Sharing my disappointment in “The Lost World.” (I mean, come on!)
Giving his children the childhood he could not have. Insulating. Teaching. Nurturing.
Family road trip navigator, getting us pointed in the right direction for our annual summer adventures, chauffeuring us to the all-American lands of dinosaurs, Golden Gate, Old Faithful, Disney, Grand Canyon, glaciers, redwoods, Mt. Rushmore, and southwestern deserts.
Providing an endless library of inside jokes (see family vacations above) – “Slow down!” - “Now it’s MY turn to stop!” - Burrow Creek bathroom lizards – 24-hour road trip to Phoenix – kamikaze Wallowa Lake deer – KOA flash flooding – Northern Idaho Naked-Man Bike Ride.
By my side for every hospitalization, from 11-year-old appendectomy to 25-year-old discectomy. Being my courage, always my daddy.
Gracefully enduring years of female adolescence, and then doing it all over again with my sister.
Driving lessons – jolting along the logging roads trying to keep it together as I “learn” how to drive a stick…how to drive at all.
The Great American Deck Builder.
My first car – wheeling and dealing(-ish) to get me into that 1991 red Geo Prizm. My mom vowing to never let him and my grandpa go car shopping for me without her ever again.
Basketball games, volleyball games, basketball games, volleyball games.
Delving into the political machine that is a small-town high school, fighting for my scholarship when the side effects of the power hungry thought they’d found an easy target. Dad -1, NHS -0
The “Dad Gift” at Christmas. Progressing from the bobble-head Chihuahua to a pretty sweet iPhone case.
Brake jobs, oil changes, new tires and fluids. His fussing and worrying keeping me safe, expressing his love.
Many, many moves. From Sheridan to Vancouver, just the two of us…in August…in 100-degree heat…at 10 p.m.….hauling that couch up three flights.
Inconspicuous words of encouragement, of life lessons, of humor, of deep truths.
The consummate provider. From vague memories of early-year nightshifts to the comforts of a golden childhood to private college tuition to co-signing rental agreements.
Meeting the boyfriend – embracing my future husband as the son he never had. Proud of that bull’s eye in the backyard that first weekend they met. Taking him under his wing whenever the opportunity arises.
Champion of the Barron of Beef at our wedding of the century.
Walking me down the aisle. A Billy Joel father-daughter dance.
Thursday-night dinner. Tolerating Project Runway. Keeping his girls happy even now (but commiserating with his son-in-law).
Saving my cradle so he could fix it up for his grandchild. Gestures so simple and so lovely.
There from the beginning. To be there until the end. I may not be the one giving birth, but he will be there for the birth of his first grandchild.
My protector, my constant, my teacher, my friend.
Memories of my childhood teem with his dependable, warm presence. He is my father, perhaps because of blood, but he is my dad because of his umbrella over my life. It is not genetics that formulate my definition of father. It is this man, wise, strong yet kind, living an honest, simple, steady life. An example to hold up and say, yes, he did it right.
Qualities I see shining in my husband. Call it Freudian, but I find no fault in seeking out a little bit of my father in the man to be the father of my children.
Thank you, daddy, for always standing by my side, over and over again, for giving me a life not only full of the necessities and the comforts, but enriched by the experiences and moments we will carry through to your grandchild. Happy Father's Day!