Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Dad's Gift of Himself

Our doorbell is unplugged and from my bed, I heard a pounding knock on the door. Sick and in clothing not appropriate for strangers, I zipped my oversized Star Trek hoodie on as fast as I could and saw a FedEx truck outside. I opened the door quickly apologizing for the wait because I was sick and he said, "I'm sorry. But it is from Germany. I couldn't leave it." I signed my name.

I closed the door and clutched the package to my chest. I knew what it was. I leaned my back against the door and wept. I felt incredibly loved and thought: this is my dad--he has an incredible capacity to love and to give out of that love. 

My dad's 60th birthday is today but we celebrated it at my house over the 4th of July holiday with my mom, brother, sister in law, husband and my dad's brother. I had asked them to send me words that described Dad to them. I was hoping to amass sixty words and I got many more. 
The words were used in a gift entitled "60 things we love about You." 

Sixty things we love about my dad are: giving…  listener… insightful… artist… wise… loving… delegator… golfer… explorer … kind… caring… president… humble... clever.. planter... gracious... adventurer… patient… businessman… teacher… understanding... strong... compassionate... sharing… fan… brave… peaceful… trustworthy… student… photographer… sensible… protective… architect… thoughtful… honest…considerate… archivist… intelligent…funny… counselor… driven… athlete… fair… believer… handyman… family… handsome… leader… organized... attentive... generous... creative... chop... talented... traveler... prayerful... direct... dedicated... Christian... aficionado...

One of my favorite childhood memories is that my dad took our family on vacations at least once a summer. He would get really excited, put a map on the kitchen table and show us all the locations we would go and walk through his printed itinerary. One year we jumped in our suburban, affectionately known as the "Black Beast" and drove 5000 miles from Kentucky to California and back. One of many places we returned to more than once as a family is Jackson Hole, Wyoming in Grand Teton National Park. Dad and Mom started visiting there before they were married and return often. My Dad was there as recent as June of this year. Dad's memories of being there with his family draw him back to the glory of the Teton Mountain Range and Jenny Lake. Dad, being a talented photographer, captures the endless beauty and the images encapsulate the emotions of being there.

Me & My Brother at Grand Teton National Park, 1990
Jackson is one of those places that if I had a family, we would've been there several times by now.  Admiring Jenny Lake from hiking to Inspiration point; a guided boat tour of the Snake River; a trip to the lodge to eat at the diner; giggling about the meaning of the name of the mountain range; waking up early to capture photographs of the Tetons reflecting on the water; stopping along the road to admire the wildlife such as buffalo and moose. My dream is to someday be well enough to share the Tetons with George. When Dad was in Jackson in June while my mom was on a mission trip to Honduras, Dad shared many photos with me via email. As a photographer, his gift for capturing images is spectacular -- an artistic talent he inherited from his dad. 

Dad's inscription of Christmas photo
For Christmas, I received a gorgeous photo he'd taken of the light coming through the clouds in front of the majestic Tetons. The photo had been processed in a high tech photo-lab in Germany on museum-quality acrylic glass. When Dad was here for his early birthday celebration, he told me he had another photograph coming to me from Germany. I was overwhelmed--it is his birthday and he sent me a gift.
The dogs surrounded me, wanting to smell the package in my arms. I sat on the couch and slowly opened the many layers of protection until it unveiled an image that I interpret as my dad sharing with me his love of Jackson; his love of his mom and his dad; his love of the memories he made with them and his siblings; his love of the memories he made with Mom, with my brother and with me; his love of me. The image is simply glorious and speaks to me in ways I cannot explain.

I know my dad loves me more than words can describe and I know that not everyone has that. I appreciate how my dad loves me, how he has held me and rocked me when a boy broke my heart, how he has given guidance & wisdom, how he ran to my side when George was in a coma and held me up when I was sinking, how he gives to everyone he knows so generously, how he reminds me to let painful things go like balloons into the sky so they don't burden me, how he has done things to love me that I do not even know about. 
I love you to bits and bits, Dad. Thank you for being you. 
Happy 60th Birthday!
Love, Kelly

1 comment:

  1. Happy 60th Birthday, Ron!

    Kel, I have another college memory to share that might brighten your day. Do you remember when your parents bought two "Finals Week Survival" buckets and gave one to each of us. To this day, I still have that bucket and each time I open it to retrieve art supplies that it contains; I say a silent thank you to your parents for their generosity-----now only for the gift of the bucket, but more for sharing the gift of their daughter with me for the last 17 years. :D <3