It's the little things.
Today, we celebrate love and the little things that will never go unforgotten. It is the modest actions that defined my Dad's character and made him larger than life. So, hang tight while I share some of the most significant little memories that will always be held dearly.
You were tidy and diligent, organized, and frugal. You saved things and fixed them. You rocked holey jeans and bathing suit bottoms year-round. You washed your paint palette and kept your brushes in order. You kept things systematic, something not all creatives can do. You taught me the basics of plumbing and made sure I knew how to fix some things. Did you know I never cleaned out my hairbrush? Ew, I know. Somehow it miraculously always appeared unused. It wasn't until college I realized you were cleaning it. Pardon my hygiene, but I am under the impression that not all dads rush to such feats as to clean their daughters' hairbrushes. But, you, you did.
You were at the end of every finish line and narrated all of my cross-country meets. You cheered me on and only provided positive reinforcement. You were able to reframe my bad days into good days. Over the years, you sat through hours of orchestra concerts and would rave about them all the way home. You went out of your way to document things and take photos and make videos, a trait I will always cherish. You took the time to say goodnight, and through every growth spurt, you worked with me through my growing pains, helping me roll out my legs and telling me it would eventually stop. You made me feel secure about myself, you made me feel very loved.
When on a whim, I chose to go to Colorado State, you didn't question it. When we toured the campus, you really pumped me up and supported my decision. You, we're so eager for me, you even started to wear green and gold. Though we all bleed crimson and blue, you had spent many years supporting the Buff Club, but the day I began at CSU, you actively cared about the university and the community I had joined. On the move-in day, you carried my ridiculous amount of stuff and made friends with lots of people. Throughout academia, you would review my papers and assignments and offer your opinions. You looked for loopholes and helped me find rebuttals. You were a thinker.
In my heart, I can still hear you rhythmically tapping your foot to your music. You could recreate music out of nowhere. When I learned to read music, you made me feel like a 'somebody' because you hadn't learned to read sheet music, yet. You said I had already surpassed you. I never will, but I can try. You were exceptionally gifted. Your whistle conversed with the birds, and they responded to you like you were one of their own. One of my earliest memories, the kind that remains fuzzy and cinematic, took place in the aisles of K-Mart on 28th, where I went on a quick errand with you. When we returned home, I had a brand-new shimmering Lip Smackers chapstick in my pocket. My four-year-old self must have 'brought' it back with me. You knew it wasn't mine, and we promptly returned to the store, you walked me into customer service, and you subtly instructed me to give it back and apologize. It was a lesson, it was parenting, and it was something I never did again. You didn't get angry, but you taught me to do the right thing. In my twenty-three years, you never once raised your voice at me, that indeed says something.
One summer when we visited France, I was about eight years old, you and mom had the bright idea of bringing my little silver Razor Scooter, so I would be able to keep up with all of the walking. You packed it up in your suitcase tucked in between the layers of your clothes. When we got to the museums, you would carry it on your back, and it made a big difference, and I'm sure it cut back on my likely whining. You taught me to appreciate art and color and look at every piece subjectively. You led me to take in the intention behind every piece. I learned a lot through observation.
You didn't take life too seriously; this one time, we decided to take a ride up in the mountains; you insisted we make a milkshake beforehand. Together we blended up an entire half-gallon of Breyer's Mint Chip (you also taught me about portion control––or lack thereof, but gifted me with your metabolism). We blended it up and decided to use a wooden dowel to act as a tamper, well it was a poor decision and got ground up in the blades. But, you insisted we didn't let it go to waste, so the whole drive we were pulling out tiny scraps of wood from our mouths. It made me giggle. Waste not want not, right?
Almost two years ago, I gifted my Dad a black and blue mala bead necklace. I strung the beads for him, picked out a specific center silver bead, and meticulously tied a grey and blue tassel. I had no expectations of you liking the piece, or whether you would wear it or not, I just wanted you to have one. To my complete surprise, you wore the necklace regularly, almost every time you left the house. It can be seen in photographs of you at home, walking on the beach and even at my wedding. Maybe, you were simply boosting my confidence, but that was special to me. You enjoyed my art enough to make it apart of your daily life. When you transitioned on to your next adventure, you were even wearing it. Thank you for leaving so much of your affection within those beads and tightly tied knots.
Infinite actions manifested your love, none of which have been taken for granted. But, I want you to know, please don't worry, Daddio I took notes. I watched and learned by the example you set. You always kept your cool. Actually, I'm pretty sure you only ever ran cool. You were the man, the friend, the Dad, the dude. You were everything good. Today I celebrate you in the sunshine, the colors, the wind, the music, and know you are always hanging around with us. Trust me; I remember after the day you departed, you left that Kleenex in the laundry for me to discover too late. Pulling it from the washing machine with the whole load covered in tissue, I could hear you chuckle and say, "don't forget to check your pockets."
To all of the Dads and fatherly figures, I send you my love and unconditional recognition for the many beautiful moments you have gifted to your people. The little things don't go unnoted.