Grandpa Genius

Dad, Me, the Ocean

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.

6 thoughts on “Grandpa Genius

  1. Thanks for the Mormon clarification. I think it’s good to clarify that point for any readers you may have in Arkansas, Mississippi or Alabama. You know, places where the Family Tree rarely forks…

  2. I can’t believe we have the deer being butchered in front of our eyes in common Jodi!!! Mine was horrifyingly on the kitchen table no less! But I loved and admired my Dad beyond worlds. He is beyond this one now so it is beautiful for you to have a chance to tribute yours in this way today. Congratulations Grandpa Genius on a life well lived and a daughter well made. You are both gems!

  3. Is there anything like a dad? Really? Last time I was visiting mine, I didn’t resist the urge to crawl up on to his lap, like I used to. I just needed to know I still could. You know how when you look at things from your past, like your childhood home, they always look smaller than you remember? Well, surprisingly, laps can shrink too. But it was still a great cuddle.

  4. J.R.- well you know, you can never be too careful. My sister’s husband also went on the hike, but I just felt like saying “my sister, her husband and his wife” would take much more effort to clarify. It’s hard to work around these family trees..

    Sheri – really? I thought we *hated* everything as teenagers? Hmmmm…he did always keep the freezer stocked with ice-cream, so that did make him somewhat awesome, even back in the day.

    Jilrubia- thank you!

    Tammy – that’s awesome. I mean, this is so old-school the hunter/gatherer thing but kind of sweet. I am grateful that my dad is around to hear me tease him and to disagree with on everything politics. He is something special.

    Aubrey – I think I would smash my dad in half by now if I sat on the poor guy. Even being the super-tough outdoorsman he is – love that you love your pops in the way I love mine. No, there is nothing like a dad. Especially good ones like we have.

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