Sunday, June 16, 2013
Remembering My Dad
I've seen some great photos of dads on Facebook over the past 24 hours -- young dads, older dads, all with faces of wisdom and love looking into the camera. My father, Chuck Naidl, has been gone for 29 years, so it's been a long time since I celebrated a Father's Day with him. However, as I spend time today reflecting on my dad, the decades melt away and I think of the Father's Days we spent together. Often, our celebration would include swimming and picnicking in the evening at Devil's Lake State Park after our reptile farm closed for the day. I can see Dad barbecuing steaks on the grill. I can hear him tunelessly humming when he was happy. I can see him doing his little signature dance when he was trying to get a rise out of Mom and me. I recall his joyful laughter that seemed to erupt from deep inside him. I see him doing that familiar gesture of running his hand over his hair. I can see him lighting his pipe, an exercise that involved more of a series of steps than actually time spent smoking it. I think of Dad's patience and his respectful demeanor toward everyone he met, regardless of age or station in life. I think of his reverence for the natural world and I recall his dedication to his life's work to educate people about the value of reptiles in our ecosystem. I remember Dad's caring and sensitive heart that ached for the less fortunate. I sort through the saved letters and postcards that he sent me during his business travels and I run my hand over his signature, along with the cartoony rattlesnake penned next to "All my love, Dad." My dad's father passed away as a young man and my dad didn't have the benefit of years with a father to set an example for him. However, on this Father's Day, I think lovingly of my dad for whom being a wonderful father seemed to come naturally. What a lucky daughter was I.