For the past few months I’ve been living at my dads, and it’s honestly been a pretty great experience, for a variety of reasons. When you share a living space with someone you have all these little moments, conversations and casual time together that you don’t get when seeing one another is a special occasion.
For some years I’ve lived 3,000 miles away from my family, and my dad I hadn’t lived under the same roof for even longer. But now I am getting these little bits of conversation, learning more about Dad, and I have to say, it’s been pretty great to have this opportunity.
One morning, a few weeks ago, I had a clear reminder of how special those little passing moments are. I’m usually up and out of the house before my dad and step-mom are awake, because I have an hour-long commute to an 8-to-5, five day a week job and they, as Dad’s Facebook page says, “Work at Retirement.”
But that morning Dad was up early, and sitting in his chair in the living room drinking coffee. We didn’t talk much (I don’t really do mornings as social time so well, most of the time), but something about the brief, “Good Morning,” brought back memories.
Not just any memories, but one of my favorite memories, really, of camping with my family when I was little. There are a lot of us, I have three brothers and one sister, and my parents were still together at that time. So camping was a great vacation, especially if we went somewhere that we could all disperse and have a little bit of our own space.
It wasn’t a single encounter that I remember, I couldn’t tell you how many times this remembered moment actually occurred, or where, or when. But, as can be the nature with memories, it has become a vivid scene in my head, and I remember it as something that happened with fair frequency — though it is possible that it only happened once (I don’t think this is the case but, again… memories work strangely).
I remember getting up early, camping was (and is) the one time I don’t mind waking up in the early morning. There’s a peace to the time, the early morning chill, moments where you can see the sun burning off the clouds, everything covered in the crisp dampness of morning dew.
And I remember how, in those early mornings, it would seem that Dad was the only other one awake. He’d have a fire going, or at least have heated up water on the little gas-stove, and would be sitting quietly, drinking his coffee. He’d make me hot-cocoa (I wasn’t a coffee drinker yet, that particular habit didn’t really hit until college), and I’d join him, listening to the birds and the sound of life beginning to stir all around us.
I don’t remember if we talked in th
at time, or just sat drinking our warm-beverages-of-choice, and listening. But I know I savored those moments of peace and quiet, special time I shared with Dad.
Dad has taught me so many things through the years, many that I haven’t realized. My older brother was remarking the other day about how he noticed things that he did which reminded him of Dad, and I see the same. Where else could I have gotten this ridiculous enthusiasm for working with spread-sheets? Seriously, I’m excited about setting a work-goal this summer to learn more about the things I can do with Excel…?
Dad was perhaps my first model of the fact that “creative-types” don’t all have to fit a certain kind of mold. Very logic-driven, when I was growing up he always worked in offices, dealt with computers, and organizational systems. I remember doing a report on him when I was in grade-school, an interview about his work, and I still had no idea what exactly it was that he did. He was good with numbers, and spreadsheets, and organizing things.
But he also made the absolute best Halloween costumes. Seriously. The. Best. Some of them are still around, and some of them passed down from child to child until we had all outgrown them. I will always treasure the princess-dress he made for me (simple, but perfect, and complete with cone-crown). And he made other things too –cubbies for the hall, doll-beds, doll-shelves, shoe-things (to hold shoes), bookshelves. Early modeling that creativity can take many forms, and everyone could have some sort of creative spirit.
Now he has this van… a huge van, that has been (or…is being) converted into a “mobile tent” (read: mini-motor-home). And I get to see that same creativity at work in that. As he figures out how to make things work the way he wants them to, a combination of that careful measuring and building, and the creativity as well. Taking it out on one long trip, deciding what modifications should be made, working on those before taking it out again, figuring out what needs to be done…. repeat. 🙂
So with Father’s day weekend here, I raise a class to my dad. He has taught me so much, he modeled that an “artist” doesn’t always look like an artist. He always encouraged me to explore and learn about the world around me, and continues to inspire me to try my hardest and not give up.