When I was a kid they had a talent show at church, and I sang a special song for my father while my mother played the piano. It was called "My Dad's the Greatest Guy," it was from a tape of kids songs we had at home, and it was a resounding success. The primary goal, making my dad proud, was evidently accomplished by the way he just beamed the whole time. I was also asked to sing it in church the next day, so I guess it wasn't to bad of a performance (even if my brother did mess up the cue cards).
Thinking back though, the song listed lots of generic guy things (being strong, throwing pitches), but it really failed to list why MY dad is the greatest guy. Considering that I didn't really know my father well until I was an adult, it think it's about time I set the record straight.
My dad has been a cop all my life, and sadly some people will never know him as anything but that. Being a cop is a huge chunk of a person's identity, and I have always been proud of the way in which my father had protected and served his community. He's a hero, and he's a bit of a ham... pun intended.
There is so much more to my father than the badge though, so much more than the excellent marksman and karate black belt. My dad is a renaissance man. My dad does it all.
If I ever have a question about anything, my dad is my personal google. Why is it hotter at lower elevations and colder on mountain tops? My dad knew. Need a few quotes from Chaucer? My dad can recite them. Who's his favorite daughter? All 7 of us are. How to calm a baby with colic? My dad can do it in seconds, with kids that aren't even his. What are the key points in the history of the Knights Templar? He can orate upon them. Want to know the location of Nevada ghost towns? He'll drive you there. How to say "Your lawyer is on the phone," in seven languages? He knows that too.
I think my favorite thing about my dad though is the poet in his soul. It is from him I learned to never be without paper and pen. He reads my writing, I read his, and through it we share a connection. As much as I am like my mother, I really think that I look at the world more like my father does, through the lens of a writer.
Some people look at a beautiful scene and wish to capture it on camera, my dad and I look at it and begin composing in our hearts. Then suddenly the words come spilling out of our over-stocked hearts and we scramble to catch them on a page before they are absorbed into the infinity of language from which they sprang.
For us, words are a labor of love and a vessel to convey the wealth of emotion with which we have been blessed. Words are precious gems to us and more powerful than "The Elder Wand." We simply cannot fathom how some people can go through life and not constantly seek for new words. So many people spend their life describing all their highs and lows with the same shallow four letter words. People like my father and I find that grossly ill-beseeming. With the breadth and depth of the English language one would think that the power of words would appeal more to the general population.
Perhaps I inherited this writer’s gene from my father or perhaps it’s something I learned by proximity, but that’s why I love my father so, we share this secret. His soul is as complex and multi-faceted as my own, and I shall always cherish the relationship I am privileged to have with him.
(Are your allergies bothering you, Dad? Well, Happy Father’s Day.)