|Dad at the tulip festival in Washington state, one of many trips him and mom took.|
|Dad doing one of his favorite things|
But what I most remember about dad was his quiet commitment to civil rights - this goes back to having grown up in Arkansas, a place that was segregated everywhere but the place he spent the most time: the local Boys Club. Dad grew up not knowing that he was supposed to believe that a different skin color made you less of a human being. I think this has a lot to do with his trait I mentioned above - he learned early on that you don't judge people by the way they look or what you may have heard about them.
|Dad and mom on their wedding day|
I grew up as one of the only girls allowed in the "boy's only" club. (which I must admit, I loved. I was a tomboy and loved hanging with boys - dolls, and girls, were so boring). Dad's belief that everyone deserved a chance also went for his daughter. I was never told I couldn't do something cause "I was just a girl." If I wanted to try something, I could. It was a nice way to grow up.
There's been a big hole since dad died - life does go on, but there is always the thought "I wish he could be here." There were my adventure races that I wished he had been able to be at - he loved not only watching his kids compete, but he loved people. And by the time I would have ended the race, he would have met every single person involved in the race and know their "life story." (I get my love of stories from my dad). I climbed my first 14'er the weekend before he died - I remember wishing he had been able to see my pictures, see that I had succeeded in my goal and wanting to hear the story behind each of the pics. I have to believe that he does know and is smiling at the way my life has turned out.
I have been thinking about dad more lately - some dear friends are having to deal with their father's diagnosis of terminal brain cancer and I spent the weekend with them as they process the news. This family is like my own, I love them and hate to see them suffer. They have hard decisions ahead of them and the grief that they will experience as they walk this road is never easy. I remember how hard it was to watch dad suffer, knowing that he hated being in the hospital all those months and not being able to do anything about it.
There is a helpless feeling when someone you know is dying - our natural response is to want to make everyone feel better, to help make their grief easier. I'm trying to figure out how I can be there for them, all the while knowing that this grief is what they have to experience - it's a part of life.
Watching them deal with their dad's illness has been hard, it's bringing back many feelings from dad's death 4 years ago. But I also know I have a perspective that other's may not have and I'm not going to let my feelings get in the way of my being there for them.
It's exactly what dad would have done, and I can't imagine a better example of how to do it right.