This is my Dad. This is all him. Very unassuming, gentle, outdoorsy, coffee and sweet loving dad.
When I was very small, my fondest and most clear memories of my Dad was us going to Coast to Coast on Saturday mornings. Just looking through all of the fun stuff trying to figure out what our next big project would be. We went every Saturday, at least that what I remember. We were very close, but I was, deep down, a momma's girl.
When I was 9 my parents separated. My mom sent us to a friend house and packed our things and left in the middle of the day. I didn't get to say goodbye, but I was 9 and for some reason wasn't that effected with her decision. I didn't get to see my Dad for several months while they made their arrangements. I remember the next time I saw him. We moved from our home with him to Chicago for under a year, then to Texas. We lived in an apartment complex, and I don't remember how my mom let us know he was coming but she did and I saw him as he rounded the corner under harsh night time lights. I realized then how much I missed him, but the time away had taken it's toll. We didn't really know each other anymore. He got a job in the area and bought a house, took us on the weekends and did his best to be the ideal "see you on the weekend dad." But it was never the same as out Coast to Coast days.
We got a little older, I am in my teens now and Dad is Sooo uncool, and dare I say embarrassing. So our distance grew wider, in retrospect I realize he was trying very hard. He offered all kinds of things including an outing to see Haleys Comet. "Once every 86 years, this is your only shot." No thank you thought, I'm sure I had some extremely important teenagery things to do.
I wish I had gone, I wish I had done a lot of things.
One of the things my Dad has done for as long as I can remember is he will set up all of his music gear the night before my birthday and call and sing "You says it's your birthday!" I can't remember when it started but I remember being turned off by it when I was a teenager. I think as a teenager your turned off by everything. When I moved to New York I moved all over the place and he was always able to keep track of me, for my birthday call. I was only 22 and my teenager still hadn't completely warn off by then. Then one year I remembered the day before it was coming and wondered, "would he call?" Why, yes is the answer, on my cell VM, my work VM and over my home answering machine. After that I made sure to have the phone near by when I went to sleep, is he was going to drag out of bed at 6am to give me my birthday song, then I was going to wake up for it. I still sleep with the phone near by the day before my birthday.
This year marked our second annual Grizzel, Howard, Parks, Howe weekend in Tin Top, where all of these shots were taken. Even as late as last year I was still in my "Dad's a dork phase." This year I suggested a game of badminton and while we were playing, I found myself grooving to a non-existent song. Then I looked across the net to find my Dad dancing to the same song. It was in that moment I realized just how much we're alike. Later that day my sister's family, the Parks were close enough to meet them up the road and we went for a walk up the country road to meet them and it was one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. The Howes and my Dad walking and pulling B in the wagon, we had a great chat and fun horse petting adventures. It was simple, and so memorable.
He's found his gentle nurturing side, he never got it much at home as a kid, so it took him some time to develop that skill. He's got it now, and in full force. He's a great father and grand-father, or Papi as he likes to be called. I thank Martha and Dad for this short trip in the summer , a chance for all of us to get to know each other without the burdens of computers and cell phones. I got my Dad back.
Austin Family Photographer