“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
—Clarence Budington Kelland
T is the Pied Piper of our family. From the moment the boys were born, he had a vision for teaching them the joys and adventure to be found in life. Sometimes the adventure was found in our own backyard. Chubby toddlers chasing fireflies in the summer dark, trying to capture their magic. Guarding snow castles from dragons coming to capture their most beautiful queen Mommy. To jump in the center of a pile of autumn leaves, where there just might be a Daddy waiting to scoop you up in his loving arms.
T taught the boys to love nature, water, skiing, campfires, the night sky, hiking in cool green forests. And to bring bug spray, sunscreen, water and snacks. Practical and whimsy in equal measure, which serves them well today.
T gave the boys useful life lessons. How to drive, change a tire, wield tools. To build things. How to navigate by the sun. How to plant a garden. Throw a baseball. That the cure for a really bad mood that never fails is spending time outdoors.
T’s love of fireworks is legend in our family. When our sons were 3 and frightened of their first fireworks event, he told them to look for Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle flying, and the magic took hold. From then on, he would gather our boys into the car at the first boom of a distant display, chasing off to see the grand finale.
T is curious and loves learning: history, space, technology, how things work. He instilled this in the boys. He would set the alarm and take our sleepy duo into the side yard late in the night to watch meteor showers, legs swinging side-by-side in the hammock.
Joining things can bring great fun. T introduced the boys to Scouts. Being part of a group that does fun things is a great way to learn. Earning badges is a worthy accomplishment, but so is helping your buddy. Pine Wood Derby days were flurries of wood, saws, paint and healthy competition. Winning was beside the point, although T proudly cheered their 1st place victories. The boys also learned it was OK to move on when the group no longer suited them, although they had to finish what they started before they made the final decision.
T hardly ever raised his voice yet always led with a gentle, firm hand. He explained why the boys should apologize when they wounded another or each other, with heartfelt apologies and true remorse. Respecting others is important, and not to be taken lightly. Opening doors and not cussing are good manners. So too are respecting mealtimes, no bare chests, baseball caps or cell phones allowed. Always finish your milk and don’t talk with your mouth full.
The boys learned that family is the center of the universe. Your Dad will always love you, and support you, though he may not always agree with your choices. He proudly touts your accomplishments in conversation with anyone. Which is a lot, because T is social. Another fine lesson for our sons, to take interest in others and listen to their stories, because you just might make someone’s day by listening.
It’s been said you can tell a lot about a person by how their kids turn out. T is a prince among fathers and surely the most successful dad ever. Our sons are fine, confident, creative, loving and kind men. Like their Dad.