Lessons from My Fathers 

On this Father’s Day, my sister Linda and I had the opportunity to take our stepdad Walter and our Mom out to lunch, in honor of the day.  We enjoyed the buffet at Golden Corral and fun conversation. I also thought about my dad, who passed away six years ago, and the other amazing men who have contributed to my life by fathering me. 

I’m at that point in my life where all of my father figures, except for Walter, have transitioned into the next life. My stepfather stepped into a large family when he married my mom and he has been a quiet strength in my life. I’ve watched him as he has traveled around the world with my mom, feeding my interest in traveling. And I’ve observed how he takes very good care of himself, going to the Y frequently to work out, and staying active in church and volunteer work. Walter is in his 80s and he’s the most fit man that I know in that age bracket. He inspires me to take care of myself so that I can enjoy life to the utmost. 

I lost both of my grandfathers long ago. I never actually got to meet my maternal grandpa, as he died in a truck accident when my mother was very young. However, I have felt a connection to Papaw Bill since I was a toddler. I believe he watches over me, as my protector in spirit. I’ve learned from him that love and family endures, even beyond death. 

My paternal grandfather died when I was five years old. I have a few treasured memories of sitting in his lap, watching his face as he talked. I loved hanging out with him in his garage. He tinkered on cars and I played with scraps of wood, engaging my imagination as I clumsily fastened them together. Poopaw taught me to give my creativity free reign. 

My maternal grandmother remarried and Pop was the grandfather that I grew up with. He was quiet but fun, a man who worked hard, listened to country and western music and loved his garden. I learned about tending to plants from Pop, and acquired my gift for puttering from him. 

My stepfather Max was an important part of my life, from my 16th year until he passed away 11 years ago. It takes courage and patience to be a stepparent, and Max exhibited both, after a brief time of adjustment for all of us. I watched as my stepdad created businesses and sold them. I have never personally known anyone who so fearlessly, and successfully, bought, improved and sold a variety of ventures. He was a wonderful Papa to my children. From Max I learned to go after what I wanted and entrepreneurial skills. 

Bob Moore became a part of my life shortly after Max did. As my father-in-law, he welcomed me into his family, the daughter he never had. He was always kind and generous to me, good natured and funny. He loved his grandchildren and spent time with them. From Dad Moore I learned to clean the fish I caught and fry them up, to trust while he deftly flew an airplane through all kinds of weather, and to make awesome peanut brittle. I never saw this man get angry. He taught me to go with the flow and to not sweat the small stuff. 

Curt was my dad. He left us six years ago…way too soon…after a valiant battle with cancer. My father was a fun and charming man. He worked hard his whole adult life and earned success and respect as a result. Although my parents divorced when I was nine, they maintained a good relationship for the sake of their daughters. My dad remained an active part of my life, teaching me many things, primarily by example. He was compassionate to animals. He loved to ride his motorcycle. He helped others. 

When my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, fear clenched my heart. I knew how my dad’s story was going to end. During the last two years of his life, I learned the most from my dad, as I watched him live life to the fullest, until there was none left to live. He remained optimistic and upbeat, loving and funny. He did the things he wanted to do. Before he died, I had the pleasure of telling my dad how much I appreciated him, and that I knew he had always done the best parenting that he could, where he was in his journey, with what he knew. My only regret with my dad is that I didn’t call him every single night, just to chat. I miss hearing his voice and his laugh. 

I am grateful for each of these men. All gave me gifts from their hearts and lives and I cherish them and the lessons they taught. 

Clarence B. Kelland said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived, and let me watch him do it.”

That sums up all the fathers and grandfathers I’ve had in my life. They’ve lived as examples before me, for varying amounts of time. Papaw Bill’s life was shared by way of the stories his family told me about him. They all lived their lives well, and because of them, I do as well. Happy Father’s Day Dad, Max, Walter, Dad Moore, Papaw, Poopaw and Pop. I love you. And I thank you. 

The Soul That Sees Beauty

As I was getting ready for the day, I put my walking shoes on. I just knew I was going to draw a creative activity that involved walking. As I’ve moved into the second half of the month, with 13 folded slips of paper left, I also knew there were still two walking activities in the pitcher. 

I drew this action:

Walk near water. 

It was a beautiful day for this activity. It’s been hot and humid this past week, but today was slightly cooler, less sticky, with a refreshing breeze. After working in the garden for a bit this morning, I headed to Wildcat Park this afternoon, to walk along Shoal Creek. 

I parked in my usual spot at the park, but instead of heading into the woods, I walked west along the paved trail that parallels the river. I do love being near water. The path was shaded and the walking easy. The breeze kept me cool and whipped my long hair into a frenzy. 

I ended up near low water bridge, where I walked this past January, at the beginning of this year of surrender. The only available picnic table was baking in the full sun, but I was okay with that, and sat with my legs stretched out, watching the river roll by. This was the spot where I took a selfie last January, as I gazed at the river, a stocking cap on my head. I snapped another pic, from the left instead of the right, my eyes once again drawn to the rippling water. In spite of the number of people playing in and near Shoal Creek, it was incredibly peaceful and beautiful there. 

It was as I was walking back the way I had come, that I realized no one else was using the trail. I could hear people splashing and laughing in the river. Families gathered around picnic tables in the designated areas. And there was the distant and incessant drone of traffic over a high bridge. But I walked alone along the river. 

My arrow of desire that I had launched drew my attention to how I felt about walking alone. I recognized the parallels between my afternoon stroll and my current journey. A few years ago I could not be alone, in any way, even though I am at heart a loner. I was too afraid. I was not present enough with myself. I felt scared and lonely if I didn’t have someone nearby. 

How differently I journey now. I am not afraid. I am very present with myself, aware of being drawn and guided, and of this delightful ongoing conversation with the Divine. If others choose to journey alongside me for a time, I am fine with that, and grateful. If I find myself walking alone, as I did today, I am fine with that, and grateful. 

During these times of solitary journeying, whether I’m walking beside the river or walking through life, I become much more attuned to what my heart and soul are experiencing and the beauty that surrounds me. I can go deep within, and then expand outward, noticing the turtles sunning on a log, the sound of birds singing in the trees, the musty scent of a fallen, decaying tree. I can sense the energy of all living things swirling around me. 

I left Wildcat Park feeling quiet joy. The water and the beauty of nature had cleansed away the busyness of the past week and allowed me a glimpse of how far I’ve journeyed in the past five years. 

At home again, as I checked my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a quote that confirmed the experience I had just had. 

“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Those words were perfectly in alignment with my thoughts as I walked along the river. May sometimes walk alone…may sometimes walk with others, and either is fine. I’m surrendered to being open…and attached to nothing.