Happy Father’s Day, Dad

My kids have an amazing dad, and this is evidenced in so many ways every day. He’s a better father to them than I am a mother, and that’s not me being humble. It’s an indisputable fact. Our children are so blessed to have him in their lives, and if there’s anything I will take credit for, it’s convincing him to have a life with me so I could give him to some special kiddos. You’re welcome, kids.

I’d like to share a story about my own dad. First I’m going to take a long time to get to it, so that if he’s reading this right now, he’ll be wondering what I’m going to say next, and he’ll have that awkward, “I hope it’s not about the time I drove right past her when she had a flat-tire story” moment.

Don’t worry, Dad. Your secret’s safe with me. Oh…wait….whoops.

HappyFather's Day,Dad

For one of my birthdays, and I can’t believe I can’t remember which one….my 24th? 23rd? One of those. Anyway, for one very special birthday that I can’t remember how old I turned, my parents bought me my own 30.06 rifle. There was a note covering the picture on the box that said, “Right Shoulder Massager” and I still had no idea what it was until I opened it up and saw the stock and barrel for myself. Duh.

Anyway, it was such a special gift in my eyes, that I welled up with a few tears. My very own rifle. Now I wouldn’t have to borrow one (by the way, thanks Cory…) to go hunting.

Wait…you hunt? And you have a rifle? Are you one of those people? Yep.

Growing up I put this burden on myself to be as tom-boyish as possible, so my dad could feel like he had a kid he could do things with. He didn’t get a son. He got an emotionally warped me, and he got my sister. I asked him, repeatedly, if he ever wished he had a son. He assured me time and again my sister and I were all he ever needed.

I didn’t believe him.

So I went fishing with him. I played catch. I wrestled (and lost). And I enjoyed these things. I hiked. I camped. I wore steel-toed boots. It was fun.

There was one thing I hadn’t done, and that was hunt. In my 20s, I drove a few hours to Lander, WY, for a hunter safety course (which was me, and a room full of 10 year old boys) so I could hunt with dad the fall of 2003. Hunting was another way for us to have dad/daughter time.

It’s no secret I’m not one single iota in shape. I get winded walking up someone’s porch steps. It’s embarrassing. So when I was out and about in the back country with my dad, covering MILES of open range, I was tired. No doubt I slowed him down. The man is an animal. It’s like when you take a dog for a walk and you walk in a straight line, but the dog runs over here, runs back, runs over there, loops around, bounds back, goes off in another direction, and you’ve walked 500 feet, and your dog has walked 5000. My dad is that dog. He is all over the place.

We would be walking across an open pasture, and dad would turn the walk into one that included switchbacks. Anyway, I remember after one grueling hiking day out hunting, he told me I had kept up really well and he was proud of me.

Whoa. Ladies and gentlemen, I had arrived and officially considered myself a hiking and hunting professional that day.

There were other moments he wasn’t so proud. Like when I was too noisy with my fruit snacks wrapper. Or when I crunched my Cheetos too loudly. It drove me crazy when we’d be hiking along and he would stop, turn around, and put his finger up to his lips to signal “shhhhh”. What did he think I was gonna do, bust out into song? “OH HAPPY DAY-YAY! WHEN JESUS WASHHHHHHED MAH SINS AWAY-YAY!” For real. Other than apparently eating too loudly, I’d not made a noise all day. But thanks for telling me to be quiet.

Or when he would turn around and take his first two fingers to his eyes, then move them out to scan the horizon, signaling for me to keep an eye out. For elk. That we were hunting. I get it, Dad. I’m supposed to look for elk. I understand the concept. Thanks for the reminder.

I never got my elk. But I did get a lifetime’s worth of memories in those trips we took up the mountain. And a sprained ankle.

One of my favorite memories from hunting is when we were sitting on a hillside waiting for the sun to come up over the peaks. We’d seen a coyote down in the valley, and that was it (though later that day, we’d come face to face with several Bighorn Sheep). I was shivering to beat the band and I whispered very scientifically, “Dad. D-d-d-did you kn-kn-know that sh-sh-shivering is your b-b-b-ody’s way of k-k-keeping itself wa-wa-warm?” My Dad, in all his wisdom, replied, “So is dressing in more layers.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I forgot to get you a card…so…I hope this counts. xoxo