Today is my dad’s birthday. I have been reflecting a lot on the impact my family has had on my upbringing, my perspectives on life, my morals and everything that shaped my adulthood.
At an early age, certainly too early for me to appreciate it, he instilled an appreciation for the natural world. Lying on a blanket on the hill behind our house during the peak of a meteor shower, trying to sit quietly in the woods to see what birds might approach, and exploring the forests near our home sealed my future as someone excited about the outdoors. From those early experiences to week-long remote canoe trips, long hikes, and many nights drifting to sleep in tents after a hard day of play, he shaped my career choices and has driven my interest in travel and outdoor activities.
He is a handyman. I recall him challenging me with math used in carpentry projects. He often asked for my help with projects that he probably didn’t need a pair of disinterested and inexperienced pair of hands involved in. And now I absolutely love to create. When I’m squirming through a crawlspace to repair plumbing I am channeling him. From working with leather to finger-destroying power tools, my mindset of being able to do it instead of hiring someone to do it comes from his keenness in figuring out how to do it himself. He’s still beyond my abilities – be it repairing small engines or building and programming Arduino bots.
He has set the bar far and above any minor computer successes I have had. I remember the day in the mid 80s when he tried to get me to sit down and learn how to program a computer. I told him I’d have a job that didn’t need computers. Here I am on a computer typing up my recollection. I have dug into PHP and HTML and fiddled with CSS. I have been paid small sums to repair computers for people. I have made large sums playing music from my computers. And it has been over 15 years since I had a job that required only touching a computer for time sheet calculations. Certainly my earliest recollection of eating my words.
His accomplished photography and artwork, developed over the more than 30 years of my memories, continue to inspire me. His patience in the field with his medium or large format cameras and now his diligence with his editing put my point-and-shoot approach to documenting my world to shame.
I may have also adopted his ability to string together profanities when things go amiss. It may be genetic that I bleed the darkest blood you’ve ever seen from my knuckles during even the least dangerous project. And, left unchecked, my brother and I have definitely the makings of World Record contenders for the longest eyebrow hairs thanks to our dad and his dad.
He really has influenced so many areas of my life – from the music I like to the way I sneeze. (I still can’t say “rabbits” when I burp though.) We may be far apart but I see pieces of dad every day in everything I do.
Happy birthday pops. I love you.