A tribute to a great Dad

Camping season has finally started for us.  With a busy travel schedule that has me sleeping in hotels many nights (listening to the nightly calls of room service), I am grateful to be in my own RV, surrounded by my own germs and chaos and … I am even more delighted when we arrive at a quiet campground (as we did this past weekend).  Although I appreciate that it is not likely good for the owners of the property, I cannot tell you how AWESOME it is to be one of only three units in the park. Yes, I believe in celebrating even the smallest of wondrous moments in this life.

Many of you have heard me talk on stage about taking time to play and have laughed outrageously with me as I shared some of the antics that have become the epic stories of my life.  What you probably didn’t realize is where that adventurous spirit was initially instilled into me and this month I would like to share some insights on that – I hope it will encourage you to contemplate engaging in something similar as well.

I love this quote:  “If you aren’t living on the edge, you are probably taking up too much space“.  It always makes me giggle, because it conjures up some pretty interesting memories from a childhood spent at many a campground!!  (Yes, I will explain)

It’s Father’s Day on June 15th and I didn’t want to go through another year without actually saying out loud (or at least in print) how much I appreciate the man I call Dad.

Floyd, when I was younger, I probably would not say the things I am writing about now – however true they might be.  Perhaps part of having daughters is the reality that it takes us awhile to mature (not as long as boys, mind you, but I will let that pass for now! )

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “It is an interesting thing about life – it must be lived forward but only understood in reverse”.

For every year that I can ever remember, my Dad took my Mom and all three of us kids on a “family vacation”.  A tent trailer and sedan heading down the road with coolers filled with ice (and the dreaded skim milk powder and spam in a can) with adventure on his mind.  My Dad always wanted to visit new places that we had not explored before and although money was tight and didn’t afford the luxury of Motel 6, I am positive he would have chosen the campgrounds anyway.

Sounds great doesn’t it, but this was in the days before air conditioning  (not so glamourous now is it) and we would all lay on the back seat with our feet out the windows (hoping to keep the grasshoppers from hitching a ride).  We relentlessly played driving games like “on the way to Grandma’s house (or the Geography game) singing to his country music on the radio…I am certain that the goal was to have us all not kill each other by occupying the long drives with creative distractions – this is where the “Are we there yet” comments come from!   We were also in a tent trailer, which required some set up and take down (even when it rained) and I remember many mornings waking up soaking wet from touching the canvas sides or hanging out on the elastic bands that held the canvas to the bed frames.

The upside – So many great adventures like visiting Mt Rushmore, riding sand turtles and swimming in frigid mountain streams.   I even remember waking up to a world of ash when Mt St. Helens erupted.  And the time that the USA tourist thought cooking in his hard walled trailer was a good idea in Jasper National Park – the bear certainly seemed to appreciate the snack and created a larger more accesible door out of the side of his hard walled trailer so he could really enjoy it!

When I first left home, I swore I would never sleep in a tent again!  However, the wonderful Dad I am married to today managed to convince me that a hard walled trailer with a furnace, running water and a bathroom were perfectly acceptable replacements for the old school style camping of my youth.  Sans the bear of course.

My fabulous Dad instilled a love for seeing new places and making every moment an adventure to be cherished.

When I was a teenager, my Dad taught me the lesson of being kind to others.  He warned us never to turn down a request to dance – it takes a lot of courage to cross that dance floor and make the ask!

My Dad will drive anywhere.  The hours matter not as long as the scenery is worth the view or there is someone who needs his help building something.  He shows up in spades when family members visit that have never seen CANADA and will parade them across provinces in order to demonstrate his appreciation for the beauty of this country.

My Dad is a history buff and is likely one of the biggest reasons I ever graduated high school.  I remember being told I had to write a paper in law or history class and defend my position without plagiarizing from the books.  After procrastinating for weeks, I would wait for my Dad to be home from work and ask him what his thoughts were on one of the topics.  As I helped with the dishes, he passionately shared his perspectives and stories and insights.   From there, I would craft the paper and then list the books I supposedly read on the bibliography – funny I never thought to ever say my Dad in the credits.

My Dad is able to carry on a conversation about nearly anything.  He stays current and well informed and animatedly engages with friends and family.  When my teachers used to tell me that I would learn more if I talked less, I probably should have introduced them to my Dad.   There is never a dull moment when my Father is in the room and I adore him for that amazing gift and for sharing it with me!  (Especially now that I make a living talking and entertaining).  My Dad is like his father that way and I still laugh at the way they could both light up a family event with humour and playfulness!

Even though my Dad was a shift worker my whole life, he always made time to coach little league, to teach us how to play tennis, cross country ski and the fun of curling (yes my United States colleagues and friends – curling really is a sport).  When he wasn’t working, he proudly attended games – cheering us all on and critiquing our performances with love and encouragement.

Being a shift worker (and a Saskatchewan farm boy), he was not always easy on us – particularly when exhausted from a round of night shifts – anyone with a shift working parent can likely appreciate this paragraph the most!  After working shifts myself DAD, I totally get it!

There are many more stories I could share but for today… suffice to say…. Thank you Dad!  For being my biggest defender, my un-tiring cheerleader and for disciplining me so that I would grow up to be responsible – and adventurous – both at the same time.  For instilling a sense of loyalty and commitment (often demonstrated through your tireless support of the Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Happy Father’s Day Floyd – I miss you and wish you didn’t live so far away – I need a curling partner again and perhaps a push to get off the couch during those frigid winters!

Happy Father’s Day Dad

My wish for you is that you all have a chance to reflect upon the impact of your father experience and I hope that it has been as remarkable as mine!