15 Special things that remind me of Daddy!
Two years ago exactly, my dad was diagnosed with gastric cancer. We had just gotten home from a family camping trip with him at Convict Lake in the Sierras. I had just finished my first 3-Day Walk to find a cure for Breast Cancer.
This July my Dad lost his battle with cancer. This was the most difficult experience I have ever endured, watching someone so strong that you loved so much suffer. And I couldn’t do a thing to help him except visit and be there for him.
He did live a good and fun life, although much too short. These are the things that help me keep his memory alive and find peace in my heart.
1. The Sierras
The single place that I will feel closest to my Dad is in the Sierras. This is where I spent my childhood. We went there for every childhood vacation. That was his place, where he could escape from the stresses of life and just be at peace – Hiking, Fishing, Jeeping, Sitting around the Campfire.
My Dad was an avid fisherman. He loved all types of fishing: fly fishing, ocean fishing, river fishing. He taught me how to fish as a little girl. I could tie my own knot and bait my hook. I have a lot of great memories fishing with my dad. We did a lot of river fishing in the Sierras and he would take Grandpa and me fishing on Lake Piru. I was in junior high and high school then so I think I did more sun bathing than fishing. But I did love the time together relaxing on the lake.
For a man who loved the Sierras, he needed a jeep to explore it. When I was young we had a red CJ7. My Dad taught me to drive it in the Sierra’s and I did an endless number of loops kicking up dust at our friend Tim’s house in Sierra City. Then just before I got my license he sold it because he thought it was too dangerous for a teenager. I shed a few tears over that one. A few years ago he finally got another jeep for exploring his beloved Sierras.
4. Remote-Control Gliders
As you can probably tell by now, by Dad had a lot of hobbies and flying remote control gliders was another love of his. He was a member of Pasadena Soaring Society as far back as I can remember. He loved competing in the annual Visalia Fall Soaring Festival where he could fly against “the best of the best” and visit with great friends. He loved building with the newest technology and the quiet time in his workshop building!
Another one of my Dad’s hobbies was hunting, mainly duck and peasant. He had all the gear and the camouflage clothing and accessories. My husband and him shared some great and memorable trips driving to go duck hunting and sleeping in the back of his pick-up so they would be ready at first light. When he couldn’t go hunting anymore he really enjoyed watching Duck Dynasty. They helped him find some much-needed humor.
6. A Tool Box
My Dad was a third generation plumbing contractor. He truly could fix anything. I have many memories watching him work at the shop, remodeling our house, building me a playhouse with Grandpa! His hard work shows in their beautiful home.
7. A Good Laugh
My dad had a goofy sense of humor that I loved. We could joke around with each other! Looking through his old pictures was a lot of fun because he either had a goofy face or a witty, mischievous smile.
8. Hard Work
It was hard for my dad to sit around. In fact, my boys came up with the name Papa Project. Every time we went up to visit him, he had another project. And these weren’t little projects they were full-blown construction projects: remodeling the bathroom, building a pond and built-in barbecue. He always did a beautiful job and I was so proud of his work.
One of my Dad’s last projects was building a Koi pond in the back yard. Since he loved fish and to relax next to water, he wanted to be able to enjoy it in his own back yard. This became his sanctuary when he was sick and it was too hard for him to get outside.
This was one hobby my husband and I actually taught my Dad. He used to love float tubing until we would blow by him on our Hobie kayak. Pretty soon he started asking us to tow him. Finally he got his own which we now have and will put lots of miles and memories on.
My Dad loved my Mom’s spaghetti and he loved watching my babies paint their face with marinara sauce as they ate it. As long as they were outside and not anywhere near his house or his motor home. We loved sending him pictures of their messy faces after eating spaghetti.
12. Fall Leaves
My Dad was a clean freak. He loved a clean house, clean cars and a clean yard. Like his mom, he despised leaves on the ground. It’s a good thing that he lived in Southern California and not on the east coast. He was always using his leaf blower, even if there were just a couple of leaves. We liked to tease him about this. He took a lot of pride in a nice looking yard.
13. Our Tree House
Luckily he was able to build our boys a beautiful tree house before he got sick. The boys spend countless hours in it. My oldest was three at the time and was even able to help them build it (kind of).
14. Hot Air Balloons
Once my Dad got sick it was hard for him to do many activities with the boys when they came to visit. So one time they were out cruising in his jeep and saw a hot air balloon. They followed it through the neighborhoods to find where it would land. That became their tradition every time he would visit. We still do it and think of Papa and we can see them from our house every night!
15. My Boys
My Grandma always use to say that as a kid my Dad never walked he ran. Now we have three busy boys just like him. Like Papa, they don’t like to sit still and always like to have a project. They have great memories with Papa John, which we were able to capture in photos and movies. My boys love watching our home movies of Papa being silly and their special time together. Although he will be sorely missed, his legacy will live on through him.