On the 10th Anniversary of the original post, this is reprised from 06.17.01:

My father.

How does a daughter accurately describe the man who raised her to think for herself, to believe in her ability, to honor her spirit and let nothing convince her that she is anything short of a miracle?

He could be described as a hero, a mentor, a protector and a provider.

My father was a giant of a man.

Daddy and Jann at Christmas.  Jann at 1 month old.

He stood almost 6'5" tall and was solid muscle.

They called him "Big Swede".

This gentle giant held me in his arms assuring me that life was going to be good and that all would be safe in the world that he would show me.

Yes, I was Daddy's little girl.

If he could have given me the world on a string, he would have done so ... simply to make me smile.

And naturally, Dad wanted to take me everywhere.

Of course Mom would fuss, but he feared nothing and wanted his wee Jann to feel that no hurdle was too high or obstacle too large.

His spirit was remarkable.

He wanted to show me that there was nothing that could stop me and the world was an open invitation to explore, learn and grow.

He took me to ball games, to art shows, and to live theatre.  We went to auto races, amusement parks, and the ocean.

Much of this was before I could even talk.

Dad even took me to the Rodeo Parade.

Daddy and Jann at the Annual Rodeo Parade.  Yippee-aye-yo-yi-yay.

This was highly unusual because even though he chose to live in the southwest, he found all that "cowboy stuff" a bit silly.

But not too silly to join in with his daughter.

He never once raised his hand in anger towards me but instead offered his outspread hands unconditionally.

My father's hands taught me to swing a softball bat and field the ball like a pro.  He taught me the discipline of golf and the joy of the perfect putt. His hands taught me to change a tire, sculpt in clay, draw cartoons, throw a free throw and how to post up ... and how to hold a newborn kitten.

My father was the consummate artist and detailed craftsman.  Every stroke of the brush was perfection for him.  He lived in a world of art and design. He sought beauty and creativity.

He collected bits of paper with fonts, words, images and texture.  Everything held aesthetic value to my father.

Jann wearing Dad's paint splattered shoes. Gawd, I loved doing that. I remember it like it was yesterday.

He had mighty big shoes to fill and his dream was that one day I would be the artist that he envisioned me to be.

Dad used to say that I was a natural artist.  He told this to people from the day I held my first crayon ... to a week before he died.

Yes, Dad wanted me to be happy and fulfilled but I know that the day I told him that I wanted to pursue a career in science, there was a light in his eyes that grew dim.

To this day I feel I have let him down.

If I could only turn back time.

Time runs out too quickly when you love someone.

On a Monday afternoon, almost ten years ago ... my pager went off. I was busy and ignored it.  Moments later, it went off again.

Seeing my parents' phone number in the digital light, I phoned.

Mom's only words were, "Jannie, Daddy's had a heart attack. We need you at the hospital."

Through a blur of traffic, tears and prayers too late spoken, my father had left me. My science had failed me because it nor I, could have saved him.

Hours later, while pacing in the back yard wondering what I was going to do without my Dad,  I remembered the last words he and I had exchanged earlier that day:

"Hey Jann, I want you to see this new painting."
"I will Dad ... I promise."
"Okay hon, I love you."
"I love you too."

His art never failed him.

It never let him down.

That night I walked into my parents' grand hall and looked at the portrait that my father had painted of me as a young child.

I reached up and touched the canvas ... touching the paint.  Each stroke had been laid to canvas with love. The eyes that looked back at me were his eyes.

I was touching my father's hands.

Daddy and Jann in front of the portrait he painted of me.  That portrait is priceless and oh, so cherished.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  Oh, how I miss you. I love you, Dad.

[12:01am MST] [Permalink]

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