Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On His Shoulders

My earliest memory of my father is from when I was two years old. In those days when Much Older Sister and I were their only children, my parents would make our bedtime routine a game. Each of them would grab a girl to race up the stairs to our bedroom--MOS was always Mama's Girl, and because I was younger and slower I was Daddy's Girl. While Mama's Girl held Mama's hand and they pounded up the steps, Daddy swept me up onto his shoulders and the race was on.

I'm sure there was an equitable distribution of who would come in first in each race, but I don't even remember the winning and losing part. What I remember was how I felt up there on my father's shoulders. I was invincible, on the team of this strong, determined man, and we laughed as we flew toward the goal.

Today my father turns 87 years old. I've written here often about what it's like to have the strongest, most determined father in the world. I wrote about his place in the Greatest Generation, how he left for the Navy when he was 17, and was loading torpedoes in World War II's Pacific battlegrounds before he was old enough to shave. I've spoken of how his vision for vocational education was the driving force behind an institution that has changed thousands of lives, thousands of families. I've made note of his multiple swimming championships in three state Senior Olympics competitions this year.

These days I don't see my father nearly as much as I wish I did. He lives a state away and between his schedule and my schedule (mostly his schedule), it's often a month or two between hugs. But that doesn't mean I don't see reminders of him.

I come across the picture of him lighting a fire in the fireplace, with 18-month-old Boy#1 watching intently. I hear Boy#3 talk about his first months of teaching, and remember that he is a musician today largely because he loved hearing Grandpa play the trombone. I see my children involved in church activities and know my dad was part of the godly heritage that was modeled in their grandparents. I look at my marriage and appreciate the 58 years Dad and Mom were married. Every day I have moments in my professional life when his modeling of commitment to the right thing influences my decisions.

He is still strong and determined and part of my life, every day.

Happy birthday, Dad. We're still on your team and standing on your shoulders.

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