One Sunday afternoon in 1993, while living in San Diego, California, my dad gathered his hiking things, and said to me, “We are going on a walk, it will be fun.” We drove into the hills of San Diego, our exact location escapes me, till we came to a parking lot where the trail head was. After unloading our gear my Dad pointed to a concrete pillar in the distance and said, “We are hiking to that point. I promise it isn’t far.”
We ended up hiking further than the pillars but I was so lost in the the beauty of the landscape, I didn’t care. As we rounded a corner some people mentioned that they thought there was a snake on the trail. I was hiking 15 feet ahead of my dad and jumped over the snake when I saw it, then turned around and said, “Dad, watch out. There is a snake on the trail!” As he approached it he nudged the snake with his hiking pole. The snake immediately went into an attack position and struck my Dads boot! Literally bit his boot. Dad was shocked and backed up as the snake released. As the snake slithered off the trail my Dad muttered some comment about being an irresponsible parent and I told him how cool he was for playing with the snake.
Small trips like this became a ritual for my Dad, as well as weekend education on all of his hobbies. I became skilled in reciting lines from Marx Brothers films, “I never forget a face but for you, I will make an exception.” Politically rhetoric, “Al Gore, I’m hungry, lets go to congress.” and the differences between battery types (go with lithium ion). My Dad made sure we were all journal writers and gave us lots of notebooks to write in, top of the line pens to write with, and stationary to write to our grandparents with.
Even though I saw my Dad three months out of the year for the first 12 years of my life (He had sea duty in the Navy), he was always there to support my siblings and I in whatever capacity he could. When he wasn’t recording one of our choir or band concerts, he was out searching for the next piece of technology we could use to enhance our lives, after he was done “testing” it and before anyone else had even heard of the product.
My Dad never fails to intimidate suitors with his 6’4 build and booming baritone voice but when you get to know him he is the biggest sweet heart who only wants what is best for his family. After a recent botched dating experience I was talking on the phone with my Dad and told him what happened. He said a few comforting words and when we got off the phone he sent me a text that read, “Forget that Arrogant, self-centered, rat-bastard, Mormon boy. You are too good to put up with his crap!”
I am forever grateful for the Dad I have. For the never ending flow of stories from his childhood that I never tire of. Even at the age of 25, I still look forward to going home, going on a hike, and talking technology with my Dad.
Thanks for everything Papa.