This is my dad. This is probably my favorite picture of my dad, but unfortunately, our scanner is very tempermental, so you get a digital picture of a picture. It was taken about 10 years ago up in NY, on Arbuckle Pond. Dad and I were out in a canoe - and I think that was the last time I was actually in a canoe, which is too bad, since it's something I love to do. I was on a solo camping trip, before we had kids, and had spent some time visiting Mom and Dad's friends at their summer camp.
I love this picture for a couple of reasons. One, the canoeing, that I already mentioned. Two, my dad looks really relaxed and happy. Three, you can tell that he's steering the boat, but he's really concentrating more on being with me. And that third point pretty much sums up one of the great qualities of my dad.
He's a really capable guy. He can fix just about anything, figure out solutions to knotty problems, explain why something works the way it does. He's really smart and funny too - a great one for telling stories at parties - great at knowing how to talk to different kinds of people. He's terrific at steering the boat, in other words. He knows where he's going, how to get there, and how to find all the restrooms along the way. : )
But...he's also great at letting you find your own way on how to get there, and to just spend time with you while you're doing it. For example; I'm a theater person. I love to sing, dance, act, teach...I've worked in theater professionally and non-professionally all my life. My dad's an engineer. Our brains work very differently. I think a lot more like my mom, which is why it's sometimes easier for us to talk about things. My dad probably doesn't understand a lot of the reasons why I do the things that I do, or why I'd even want to. But, he let me do it. He let me major in theater in college and even paid for it. Didn't even panic that much when I told him how little I was making at my first job out of college. He's let me steer my own course, and suffer the pitfalls along the way, all the while staying nearby in case I ever needed him.
There have been lots of times when I've wished to be back in that canoe, gliding along on the cold, smooth pond while the sun set behind us. Moving just fast enough to avoid most of the mosquitoes. Smelling the faint whiffs of smoke and torched marshmallows from the campsites on the shoreline, the pine trees, the slightly mineral smell of the water.
Life lately has felt more like swimming upstream in a strong current than gliding across a glassy pond.
But when I look at this picture, I remember what it was like, and I smile.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.