I have a dad. Shocking, I know. My dad’s name is Gene, and Roan has taken to calling him “Grandpa Genius”. Yesterday was his 75th birthday. For his birthday he went hiking with my sister and his wife (er…to clarify, not my sister who is his wife. My sister, in addition to his wife. Gotta make sure we’re clear when there are Mormons involved.) This summer he plans on taking an Alaskan renegade vacation, and is also going bow hunting for elk with his good friend. Did I mention he’s 75? And this bow hunting is not pansy stuff. They hike into crazy locations in the mountains, camp for days (weeks?) and if they kill Bambi, they have to pack that dead red meat out all by themselves. When I was a kid I was totally traumatized by him bringing these animal carcasses home and stringing them up on my swing set to skin and quarter them. Looking back that is just so so so wrong, in the funniest way. He’s an outdoorsman, what can I say? This is why we could not have nice things.
My father is easily the most kind-hearted and funny (if slightly dishonest) story-teller I have ever known. Most of his stories are so good, in fact, that he tells them again, and again. And then again. He is a man who has lived an intense life, with plenty of tragedy. But you wouldn’t know it to look at him, or to speak with him. My dad has eyes like a child’s, sort of optimistic and a little dreamy. He always looks for the best in people, and has this profound belief that life can be happy, and simple. He lives in a way that is absolutely consistent with what he believes, and I’m pretty sure he’s forgiven me for all the flannel shirts I stole out of his closet as a teenager, returning them with the sleeves cut out. Seriously, sorry Dad.
My father’s favorite story to tell about yours truly is when he busted me in a lie, when I had gone to a club instead of staying at a friend’s house. I was around 15 years old, and cutting my teeth on how to give my brand of Rebel Yell. He had me gather up what I wore to the club. Then he folded it up neatly on the driveway, doused it in lighter fluid, and threw a match on it. We watched my outfit (which was something I was particularly proud of – a black lace sarong, black long johns, and a bleached-out spray-painted t-shirt. I still mourn this outfit.) He didn’t even say anything over the bon fire. I got the message. And I never lied to him or snuck out or was late for curfew again. Ok, well that’s the version I’m going to tell today, because this is his birthday post. Happy birthday to my dad, who I feel lucky every day to know and to have in my life.