Saturday, June 20, 2015

the ski and boat man

It is officially summer and Father's Day is upon us. If you think you need to provide your kids with some amazing, Grizwold-quality vacation experience they will never forget, then you should read this:

When I was a kid we didn't do the fancy, destination vacation. We never flew in a plane and I didn't see the ocean until I was 21. When our family went on vacation we packed up the station wagon and went into the country.

We went on "float trips," as we call them in Missouri, where you camp outside of tiny towns and avoid encounters with snakes and spiders as you canoe down the river with your feet propped up on a cooler. And about three weekends a year we went to Pomme De Terre Lake, where my grandparents owned a trailer home and boat dock and where my dad stored his boat: a 1967 Mark Twain, which he bought new from a boat show that year.

What made summer and vacation amazing to me as a kid wasn't ticking off the boxes of the wonders of the world, it was getting away with the ones I loved and spending those long, slow, hot days outside on the water. The truth is that my dad didn't spend one day teaching me how to ski. He spent countless days over the course of a summer or two, throwing me into the lake and circling around me in the boat, with rope in tow, until long after I had broken down into a sobbing mess of failure. The reason I thought so highly of the "Ski and Boat Man" wasn't because of this rosy experience of learning to ski, it was because of his patient, persistent devotion; the price he paid to invest in me, a little girl. His little girl.

The reason my dad was like a super hero to me wasn't because he provided for his family or served his country, though he did... wasn't even because he loved me, though he did.

The reason my dad is my hero is because I knew he loved me. It wasn't about how he felt about me, it was about how he showed me that I was his priority. It's because he took me outside and spent time with me. Time through excitement and past amazing to the point of boredom. Because, let's be honest, love doesn't usually happen as much in the grand gestures as it does in the mundane.

"My dad chose to share that time because he loves me."

Last year when Dad gave me his boat he told me to be careful. "A boat is a hole in the earth, surrounded by water, into which you put all of your money," he said with a smile. That's what he said but I know that's not what he believed.

Dad believed that a boat is a hole in the earth, surrounded by water, into which you put your loved ones...

your memories...

your heart.

Happy Father's Day, Ski and Boat Man.