Friday, April 5, 2013

Because of You. A Tribute to My Dad.

Today is my Dads 70th birthday and I have been thinking all week about what gift I can give him. But nothing comes to mind. I know that he has every material thing he needs and wants. I also know that he is getting older and though he is in great health, dads don’t live forever.
As a mother, I long to know the legacy I have left on my children. I can’t help but wonder, despite all the things I tried to teach, what will they take away from me?
It made me think that my dad might long for the same thing. But, I’m not good at saying this stuff out loud. As much as I might want it to, it never seems to come out right.

So I hope you won’t mind if I borrow this forum to share some thoughts about the legacy my dad has left to me.

Dear Dad,
Here is what I want you to know.

Because of you, I love to be outside. I love to walk up mountains picking up rocks, examining the shape and the color and trying to recall the names you taught me. Occasionally, I find rocks in random places in my home. They appear in pockets, in drawers and on window sills. Rocks I picked up on one of my journeys and rolled through my fingers while thinking of you, and unconsciously carried back home.

Because of you, I often dream of living on a farm. And because of you I know it is not a romantic, easy dream. I know my days would be filled with back breaking work, the mending of fences, the care of animals, thirst and sweat and tired bones. Yet, when you talk about these things I see where your strength comes from, your patience and your stubborn spirit. These are things that I love and admire about you. 

Because of you, I like the scent of tall pines, the smell of cut wood, and the way the light bounces off a rolling field of golden wheat. I like the sweet aged taste of choke cherry syrup and the pucker of a twelve lemon pie. And… because of you, I can’t ever eat plums without recounting in vivid detail, the day you fell while picking them.

Because of you, I love dogs. I’ve enjoyed their unconditional love and companionship all through my life. Time after time, you gave our family the gift of a dog. And every time, he or she turned out to be one of my dearest friends. I have Kayak today, because you taught me to love dogs so long ago.

Because of you I am slightly afraid of hitchhikers! But, I am never wary of offering a helping a hand. Through you, I learned tolerance and to see things from the “other guys” perspective. Through you, I learned to lay judgment aside and let love and service stand in its place. 

And though I am not always good at the details, I appreciate the value of them because of you. You taught me to slow down, to be more precise, to understand how and why things work. Because you taught me these things, and because details don’t come naturally to me, I actively seek for others to provide that balance in my life and my work.

Because of you I am not afraid to laugh so hard I cry.

And like you, I have learned to laugh at myself with grace and joy.

But, I’m also not afraid to sit quietly, watching the world unfold around me. I learned peace in observation, from you.

Dad, your example makes me want to preserve traditions, to tell stories, hold reunions and stay connected to people and places and things that I love. You have taught me the value of history. And because of you, I have gratitude and respect for the people who came before me. It’s important to me that they know that I remember. It’s important to me because of the stories you have told and the traditions you and mom have created for us.

From you, 

I learned love. 
I learned the pride of dirty hands after a long, hard day of work.
I learned to stop and listen; to soak it all in and then to be thankful.
I learned to be forgiving.
And I strive to be as humble.
It is my love for you and my gratitude for the things that you taught me that push me to be better and to try harder. Your example reminds me to be thoughtful, loving, and to strive for truth.

I know that we don’t always see eye to eye. Since I am a parent too, I am sure that there are times when you wish I would do things your way. But I also know you respect my differences and that you honor my right to make my own choices. And I hope you know I accept and appreciate these great gifts you have given to me.

Thank you for being my father. I am proud to be your daughter.
I love you. Happy 70th!