I find it hard to believe that I am 48 years old. I don’t feel 48. I think I feel more like… maybe 28? But then again, perhaps I really do feel like 48. There is not a day that goes by that my joints don’t hurt, my muscles throb and I tire so easily now. There is a bright spot however, and that is that I forget the forgetfulness. Huh… that even sounds funny when I say it out loud.
I have been texting my sister this morning and she apologized once again for not making it to yet another attempted family gathering of all my siblings. Since my mother died in 2002 we have struggled in making the time for each other. I remember promising my mother that we would continue are annual Christmas gathering at one of our houses every year. I think we managed to do that too, until my father died in 2010. Everything seemed to fall apart after that. Why is it that we always made the time to gather when my parents were alive, but can’t now that they are gone? So this year, after last weekends failed attempt I have decided that what really matters is my relationship with my wife, my kids, and my two grandchildren. We will gather as often as we possibly can and sincerely enjoy each others company. My two daughters live in Portland, and my son and his family live in Florida. So our time together will be limited, but more importantly it will be meaningful to all of us.
Last night I played hide and seek with my two year old grand-daughter, over skype. That’s right…over skype. It was hilarious and meant more to this Papa than I could ever put into words. She is definitely Papa’s girl. My seven year old grand-son who loves to tell knock knock jokes about buses, bridges and bananas is also a hoot! They are the same ones each and every time but I don’t mind. I get a chance to see him (via skype) whenever I want to. He is so smart and absolutely loves school. His favorite class is science and is excited to share with me what he has learned about that day. It’s so fun to see the excitement and wonder in his eyes. He is definitely Papa’s boy.
Parenting is not for wimps, and we know this firsthand. I think all children go through a funk where they are very uncertain as to what they are supposed to do to be a productive and successful member of society. I am proud of where my kids are at in their walk through life so far, and know that they are all going to make their mark and leave an imprint that only they can leave. I have always challenged my kids to never stop striving to better themselves. While I was stationed at different commands while in the Navy, it was very evident that if I was going to climb the chain of command ladder, I was going to have to do it myself. So I did, and without a doubt I know I have instilled into the minds of my children that same tenacity needed to succeed. I tell everyone that I have four kids, because my daughter-n-law is as much in my heart as everyone of my biological kids are. She lost her father to cancer shortly after getting married to my son and I have grown to love her and respect her the way that a father is supposed to love and respect his daughter. She was and is an answer to prayer.
I have been thinking about my childhood lately and all the fun we had playing Cowboys and Indians after our chores were done at night. My cousins would all hoof it to our house every summer day and even some of the town kids would come. We made snow forts and tunnels for hours and hours at night. We would only give up playing when we were made to go inside and go to bed. These forts and tunnels were something to be admired and I wish we had taken the time to take pictures so that we could show our own kids what their parents used to do as kids. I remember walking to the town dump and shooting rats, and even throwing rocks at them. And the treasures! We would always drag a bunch of junk home and leave it in our fort in the woods near the cemetary. We also had paths and trails there as well. A huge roll of canvas material was brought home once by my dad for what was supposed to be a sawdust tarp for his farm truck. Well, us kids confiscated it and dragged it out in to the woods near our fort. We rolled the ends with 2×6 planks and hung each end up into a tree. It ended up looking like it was supposed to be a tent that didn’t have the center post in yet. One of us would climb a tree and hop onto the tarp staying at one end. Then another one of us would climb another tree at the other end and leap onto the tarp throwing the other one skyward and of course crash landing somewhere. It was some of the most fun things we did as kids and it always brings a smile to my face when thinking about it.
We grew up on a small dairy farm and always had ponies and horses. We all had our own sulky and harnesses and would spend hours upon endless hours riding the trails. I remember a time when we chased a moose through the woods on horses and how the moose had had enough of this game and charged us. That was scary, but also one of the coolest things we ever did.
I remember many evenings after the cows were milked and the chores were done, my dad would bring us to China Lake to go fishing. He loved fishing and certainly passed that likeness onto me. I have much of my father in me and as I age I am seeing that I do look like him in certain ways. But, I look more like my mother with my dark hair and dark brown eyes. I know for certain that I am a good person with an even better heart, that loves his family unconditionally now and forever. I pray that my imprint will stand out in ways that will make you remember me, while making you smile. I have been influenced by some of the most admired people in the world. I am still being molded to this day, and you are all still making a difference to this man who is just trudging forward the same as you. I am such a lucky man who has been blessed more than he deserves. Thank you so much.