Today I mourn with those who are not as lucky as I am. I know far too many people who lost their fathers much too young.
But today I also celebrate all the ways that so many of us have experienced positive fatherhood.
I wrote my dad an e-mail this morning, with some of my favorite memories of our lives together. Here's what I wrote:
--We went to Pigeon Forge to run a midnight race. We returned and tried to keep ourselves awake until it as time to go to church--we listened to Chicago's 16 through headphones and played chess.
--I was being honored at a college convocation. Mom was coming down. You came too, as a surprise. I remember pulling into the parking lot in Columbia to pick you up. What a neat surprise.
--You and I went backpacking together near Charlottesville--probably during my 9th grade year of high school.
--When I was a vegetarian cooking dinners, I made some real clunkers--you never complained.
--You taught me to drive and you were always very calm. I made a turn once without slowing down, and you said, "Next time you should use your brakes."
--You procured a microchip for a science fair project--I won honorable mention! In 1979, that chip must have been very expensive, and you let me take it to school.
--When I was in 3rd grade, I really wanted a notebook at the Auburn U. at Montgomery bookstore, and you bought it for me. I wrote my first stories in that notebook.
--You asked me to help you move furniture--thus, I never had the idea that I couldn't do something just because I was a girl.
--You taught me a lot about music, particularly classical and jazz. But you weren't snooty. I remember once at the beach, you whistled "Last Train to Clarksville" as you unloaded the groceries from the car. When I asked you about it, you said, "It's my favorite Monkees song." And you weren't being sarcastic. It taught me that it's O.K. to have a wide variety of musical tastes.
--I remember many family camping trips--another great way to learn self-sufficiency. And I learned a lot about the natural world and history because of our trips.
--I treasure the weeks at the beach as an extended family. You always made family a priority, and it wasn't until I was a grown up that I realized how many dads didn't do that.
--You taught me about money, and not just about having a savings and checking account--although those are very important things that you taught me. You also taught me about investing.
--You also taught me a lot about how to live a life that's in alignment with one's values. We discussed things like giving money to the church, and about why we go to church.