It’s Father’s Day, yet again. I’ve found my way over here to WordPress a couple times during the past two days, thinking “Should I write a post about it?” There were a couple of entries under the Freshly Pressed heading that dealt with Father’s Day and each blogger’s respective male parental unit. They were nice posts, all of them, all about what their fathers have meant in their lives and what they’ve taught them. I found myself thinking more and more about whether to post something.

Dad’s shirt has a picture of Betty White, with the phrase “Betty is my Homegirl!”

It’s not that I didn’t want to. I did. I was just at a loss for what to say. I’ve written about how awesome Mom is before. I’ve also touched on how cool Dad is sometimes. But I’ve never really talked about what he means in my life. Most of the time, I don’t really know how I could possibly sum up his place in my life in a post. Looking at my mom and I standing next to each other, or listening to us talk, it’s clear that I’m very much like her. But I am also very much my father’s daughter.

There are so many ways Dad has influenced my life over the years – little things that you might not notice until you look back and see how they add up. When I was in 3rd grade, he gave me a copy of The Old Man and the Sea to read. It was one of his favorite books, and he wanted to share it with me. I didn’t fully understand it until I had to re-read it later, in sophomore English, but I did read it. Because he wanted me to. Our senses of humor are pretty much the same, with a love of puns and word play and a sheer delight in the absurd. I blame my penchant for yelling at the tv during hockey or basketball games on him. I can usually keep my emotions in check, up until the moment I see my father cry, or when he says he’s proud of me. Then all bets are off.

I think my decision to finally write something about Dad came while I was sitting in church today. The theme was “I Am With You Always.” As often happens, I found myself thinking about the sermon I might have given, had I been the one speaking on the topic. Personally, I think today’s theme went perfectly with Father’s Day, for one simple reason…

No matter where I go in life, I will always hear my father’s voice in my head. That voice, telling me to work hard, be a

Swapping stories with Uncle Dan

good person to others, to laugh and look at the positive side of life, to enjoy what you have and what you’ve seen and experienced, and to do what brings you joy, will always follow me where I go. And that’s as it should be, for fathers, don’t you think? Whether it’s Dad’s voice, telling me he loves me and is proud of what I’ve accomplished, or the Father’s voice, telling me the same…that’s the sort of thing that sticks with you. That follows you through your life and helps to make you who you are.

Over the past couple years, it’s become ever more clear that Dad won’t be here forever. That’s the thing that truly scares me…that my parents won’t always be here in a physical way – that I can see, hug, and hear (outside of the memories in my head). I’ve told them that they’re both supposed to live until at least 80, and then we’ll talk. I know that it’ll happen eventually. That’s part of life, and hating it doesn’t lessen the truth of it. Perhaps that’s why I focused on Dad for my thesis, in the end. I wanted to make sure that I preserved part of his voice in a way that wasn’t just in my head, guiding my path. Maybe it was because I wanted a way to share at least some small part of this amazingly awesome man – a man who, at the age of 11 became the main breadwinner in his family and took over the role of father figure for his six younger siblings. A man who, after 28 years of working crime scenes and witnessing some of the worst things that humanity can do to each other, can still laugh harder at the world than anyone else I know. A man who delights in making calls as Santa Claus every Christmas.

I’m protective of my parents in that I don’t share them with just anyone. That’s kind of how I knew some folks weren’t going to make it into my inner circle…I didn’t want to introduce them to Dad.

At any rate, like I said, his is one of the voices in my head, giving opinions on what I do in life. It’s one of three major ones, other than my own, the other two being Mom and Gramma – but those are topics for another time, I think. For now, I think I’d like to share with you some actual quotes from my father. Some are from the fieldwork interviews I did with him, others are just comments he’s made throughout the past year or so that I just happened to jot down. I hope you get as much of a kick out of Dad as I do:

On priesthood: “We don’t color God’s grace as we want to color it. We are here to reflect it faithfully as God intended it.”

On Plains wildlife, before First Contact: “You could fall out of a tree…if there was a tree…and land on a buffalo.”

On people: “People are what people are.”

On the weather: “The forecast for tonight is dark, with continued dark through dawn, turning to scattered light in the morning.”

On the importance of story: “I wouldn’t dare talk to a five and six-year-old about evolution. They haven’t the foggiest idea. By the time you got to the first piece of slime mold in the ocean they’d be off doing something else, and if you keep their attention through the slime molds, by the time you got to the dinosaurs they’d be doing something else. So you try to develop the stories that hold their mind and give them some tie to their background. They don’t need to know about slime molds. Trilobites. Australopithecus. They want to know where did we as a group come from, not where did we as human life forms come from. So that ties them back to an area and a community.”

On enjoying the little things: “Yes, I know I don’t really need two apple fritters. I won’t eat them both. I just like having them around. They’re like comfort food. That I don’t eat.”

On keeping positive: “Here I was thinking I’m going to retire and do things and I can’t do anything. I can’t get up and walk around. I thought I’d retire and get to look at my birds and I can’t see to see my birds. People can tell me ‘It’s right there’ and I can look for an hour and still not see. It used to be I could be driving down the road at fifty miles per hour, and see a hawk in a tree. Now I’m lucky to see at all. But, I’m still breathing. I’m still able to get around in some sense. I’m vertical, as I always say. I look up and see blue, look down and see green. You know, things could be worse. I could look up and not see anything. But, I don’t let it bother me. And I suppose that’s because of all the things that I have seen, in the last forty years or better, in the job, you know? You see all this misery and I’m not experiencing it. People experience it but I’m not experiencing it. Or, if I’m experiencing it certainly not to the extent that I’m going to go sit off in a corner someplace and hide. And in that respect maybe I should feel bad because I don’t feel bad.”

On career: “Do what you do because you love it. Not because it’ll make you rich or because someone told you to.”

On direction: “Well, yeah, you can go that way but it won’t get you anywhere. It’s like, you can eat this poison mushroom but then you’ll die.”

On fairness: “You know what I always say? You move your feet, you lose your seat!”

On the marks the doctor drew on his foot, prior to the amputation of his toe: “You know what that is? A footnote!”


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