I’m using space this week to write a letter of love to my dad. It was his birthday on Wednesday. To prepare for this writing I immersed myself in memories and music my heart entwines with him. Many of the lessons my dad taught me serve as the foundation for space2live. My dad never told me HOW to live but he showed/shows me WHAT LIVING IS. His nature and way of being says paying attention is vital, reflection is nourishing, and always, no matter how others influence, be who you are.
I can still see my dad and his father standing in the living room near the stereo. My dad had not been home from work long but he had changed his clothes. My grandpa stood with a cocktail or short glass of Chianti in his hand. Dad nimbly put a new record on the turntable. Both men stood stock-still and waited for the voice. Softly with sonorous clarity, Barbra Streisand delivered……Midnight, not a sound from the pavement, has the moon lost her memory, she is smiling alone… The listening was so intense I remember not wanting to ruin it with any noise. My grandpa eventually shook his head and mumbled something like, God, what a gift, what a voice. My dad stood openly lost in his appreciation. I felt privileged to be in the same room during this expression of awe and reverence. I felt part of something bigger than a new record.
Thanks Dad for showing me paying attention is a gift. It lets beauty in. It creates enriching memories.
My dad loves to drive. Between his passion for race-cars and his recurring case of wanderlust he has clocked many hours behind the wheel. Being a passenger on many road trips with Dad I’ve had a lot of time to observe him lost in his thoughts. I remember Dad tapping his ring against the steering wheel as Steely Dan or The Eagles jammed on the tape player. There were no DVDs or cell phones to interrupt the reveries. There would definitely be family chatter but much of the time we just looked out the window and daydreamed. It was always OK to NOT talk as we drove down the road. For all I know Dad could have been stressing about his business decisions or going over his long list of responsibilities but it always felt like he was simply reflecting and escaping into a world of ideas.
Thank you Dad for finding ways to escape the rushed hectic existence of everyday life. Thanks for making it acceptable to pause and reflect.
Be Who You Are
I spent too much of my childhood wishing Dad would dress nicer, drive a quieter car and be like my friends’ parents. He wore what was comfortable for work and play which usually meant flared purple corduroys (even into the 80s) or t-shirts with the sleeves cut off. He drove Lisa (my sister) and I to school in a bondo-spotted Chevy that sounded like it was missing the muffler. We wanted to be dropped off a block past the school. We never were. Dad never joined the country club or played golf. He goes to the racetrack and builds fires in the fire pit down by the crick. He never had a corner office but he did sell shoes, does serve the community and does scoop ice cream, and was/is content. He plants every seed he comes across and listens to music. His kitchen windowsill is overflowing with potted plants in various stages of potential. The airwaves in the house and barn are filled with one or more of the following: jazz, rock, pop, Yanni, old-school country, R&B or bagpipes – whatever he’s drawn to at the moment.
Not that long ago, over remnants of pie and Faygo pop, we sat around shooting the breeze at Dad and Jan’s (stepmom) kitchen table. I don’t remember what precipitated the exclamation but at one point my dad vehemently declared (hand gestures accentuating his words), I never wanted to be like everyone else! Well, hmmm that explains a lot.
Thank you Dad for being brave enough to move to the beat of your own drum (or synthesizer or bagpipe). In doing so, you’ve planted the seed of courage in me.
Happy birthday Dad:)
With endless love and gratitude,
Tell me about one of your teachers. How well do you know your parents? What are 3 of your essence values?
**A great article on getting to know your parents as people: Do You Really Know Your Parents?