Happy birthday to my Daddy!

Today is my Daddy’s birthday and I’m very, very far away–too far away to send gifts, give hugs or bake blueberry cheesecake. (Daddy: IOU one blueberry cheesecake in two years! Maybe two by then.)

So let me tell you about my Daddy.

As I grow up and reflect on my decisions, personality traits and passions, I see more and more of my parents in me (I’m not going to admit to that very often!!) Sometimes I realize something about myself that I recognize because I’ve seen my dad or mom portray that trait. Daddy gave me my long legs and my love of hot beverages, among many other things! Here are some other things that this man has given me, whether genetically or characteristically.

A Love of Education (and a sponsorship thereof)

Both my parents raised me on a diet of books and intellectual curiosity. My daddy is truly a jack-of-all-trades–he knows the most interesting facts about the most interesting things, and he never stops learning, reading or theorizing.

As a result, I hold firm to the belief that my daddy can do anything–he’s a brilliant thinker who can fix anything (from cars to bookshelves); can read an incomprehensible physics lesson and understand how the world works; every tough question I have goes to him, and he’s the problem solver!

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He’s set the standards high for my husband

No wonder I’m so picky: the future man will have to be gentle AND strong, witty AND mechanical, soft-spoken AND social, supportive AND challenging, tall AND dark AND handsome 🙂

I feel so supported, encouraged, listened to, remembered and spoiled to death to have my daddy! He and my mama are strong, stubborn, brilliant, driven, wandering, loving people, and I hope I can follow the legacy (minus the trailer in the isolated Nevada mine thing–I’m way too extroverted for that.)

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A love of the open road

Some of my earliest memories involve Interstate 5 (hereafter referred to as “the 5”), bright headlights lighting up the dense night between Stockton and Kettleman City, the truck’s digital clock glowing green and daddy sipping his Diet Coke all the way to So Cal.

We moved all over the country when I was a kid, and I’ve inherited the same restlessness. I crave the open road, the chance to be flowing along the freeway or flying over oceans to a new adventure. My daddy and I both love to be the driver, maneuvering the truck/car/boat/trailer/etc. up, down and around the country. There’s just something about “going” that is calming, inspiring.

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Photography–an eye and a machine

Thanks to my daddy, I’ve been on camera all my life (this has led to incriminating evidence of my sassy childhood and regrettable evolution of bangs.) I remember getting my first camera for Christmas when I was a kid, and daddy excitedly introducing me to what would become one of my lifelong passions. Every Christmas since, cameras have played a part–we can discuss the merits of various lenses, polarizers, shooting angles, apertures, and subjects (but it is very clear that Daddy is the expert–he knows everything about cameras and landscape, I swear! When people ask me how I got into photography, I tell them that my dad should be a professional and we’ve been carting cameras around all my life!) Another memory, one of my favorite, is driving down the side of some deserted highway just before dusk. Suddenly, dad slammed on the brakes, leaped out of the truck, ran to the back to get his camera bag and took off racing through the knee high grass. His target? A dead tree silhouetted against one of the best sunsets imaginable. Now, I’m the one who slams on the brakes and runs to get my camera, then I say, “Daddy, what lighting settings should I use?”

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Labors of love through the USPS

The latest way that my daddy has been outstanding is by sending me care packages all the way here in Colombia. I can’t even begin to describe how thrilled I am every time I get a package, carefully wrapped and labeled, and filled to the brim with thoughtful, fitting and useful goodies–from dark chocolate to a portable speaker that I can use for my English classes. My entire family pitches in to these incredible packages, and I feel so loved, remembered, missed and understood when I open them! This transition to the Peace Corps has been a little more difficult emotionally than I anticipated, and I am so glad to have such a supportive and positive support system at home. In some ways, I feel like I’ve grown even closer to my family since I came here–even more than when I lived just a couple of states away. Daddy has spent I don’t know how much time or money in the post office, ensuring that they get my little boxes of home in a safe and timely manner!

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So to my Daddy: thank you for being my daddy and for giving me so many passions, ideas, experiences, character traits and inspirations. Thank you for my Crumley smile and for peanut butter and applesauce on toast; thank you for teaching me to be independent and inquisitive; thank you for that fettuccine alfredo in Seattle and for stuffing me in a canoe at age 2 weeks; thank you for challenging me to think and create, and for laughing at my jokes; thank you for fixing my cars and my homesickness; thank you for those two-squeeze hugs and emails!

Love you and happy birthday, Daddy Don!

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