Happy Birthday to my dear old dad! And I only use the word ‘old’ because it happens to fit well with that particular saying. As he enters the final years of his fifth decade on Earth he couldn’t be more young. The above pictured cannonball, perfect form I might add, is a perfect example of this youthful vitality.
Last year I was lucky enough to have my dad arrive on my doorstep, or rather in the International Arrivals terminal in Amsterdam, on his birthday. We forced him, jet-lagged and hungry, to entertain us with stories from the past (our favorites include ‘Pick, Pick, Pick’, only three picks, and ‘Poop on the Tie’, also a favorite on my birthday) until he finally fell asleep sitting up while pretending to watch TV. A classic dad move.
This year we are thousands of miles apart as usual, but that doesn’t make us any less close. Once you get to know me you can see that while I may be a striking physical resemblance to my mother, my personality has been cut mostly from the cloth of my father. I say mostly because I am prone to irrational outbursts of anger and/or anxiety and my mood swings like crazy monkey, and these things I could have only inherited from mommy-dearest.
Dear Dad: Oh How I Resemble Thee. Let Me Count the Ways…
1. Maps make me crazy. Crazy in LOVE! I hate to go somewhere without first at least glancing at a map to get my bearings. I like maps that show elevation, vegetation, population and the nearest shopping centers.
2. As previously mentioned, I have a fetish for practical footwear. I also enjoy long-johns, wool socks, hats with balls on the top, Wellingtons, headlamps, gloves with retractable fingers and any kind of bag with an unnecessary number of pouches and/or zippers. Besides being slightly fashion-challenged, I believe this shows that we are commonsensical and always prepared for inclement weather.
3. I’m never, ever wrong. Ever. Even when I get in an argument where it would appear that I have conceded the point to my opponent, I’m secretly thinking “Oh how wrong you are, and it’s so sad, therefore I will let you think you are right while congratulating myself on my supremacy in this argument.” My dad is also never, ever wrong, so our arguments are heated, full of obscure vocabulary and never ending. To this day the debate over the events that led up to me getting five stitches on my chin when I was a child is a land mine in all our conversations.
4. Boats. Are. Awesome. Motors, sails, oars, whatever. Water and a floating vessel? Yes, please!
5. I love nature. I love water, trees, dirt, rocks and air of all kinds. A walk outdoors is the cure for almost any ailment I have. My dad taught me, without ever having to give a formal lesson, to see the virtue in the outdoors. And now, as Dave and I drive through the forested, mountainous and plains areas of the world, I make observations like ‘There really are no hardwoods in a region with sandy soil like this’ or ‘Don’t you just love the shape of a Poplar tree?’ or ‘Grass smells nice.’
6. I read voraciously. Reading is one of my primary pleasures in life. I like fiction, non-fiction, mystery, drama, comedy, sci-fi and even the occasional Western (does Shane count?) and once I’m engrossed in those pages don’t expect me to put it down until I’m finished. In addition to bequeathing me his fondness for literature, I also have my father’s ability to pretend to be in a conversation while I continue reading. “Really, uh-huh, yes, definitely, you don’t say.” I have no idea what you just said, but this is a really good book.
7. Like my dad, I’m really, really honest. To the point of bordering on rude. Although I will say I have learned from the mistakes of my elder, because I have grace and true gratitude when receiving gifts from others. My dad, on the other hand, has the tendency to say “What is this? It’s a what? Oh, ok” as he tosses it aside. He means well, and he is thankful, but if you didn’t get him something from a dog-eared edition of a sporting magazine, he pretty much doesn’t want it. Watching him open a gift is scary sometimes.
This list could go on and on. I can’t say that I always see these connections to my dad as positive traits. I’m stubborn, I’m bossy, I’m incredibly difficult when I’m hungry. But I’m also loyal, good-humored and close with my family. I’m lucky to have such a genetic background and behavioral model. And I never have mastered that cannonball.