Childhood memories are often larger than life.
But that is ok. Living up to your memories should be a challenge.
I am sitting in the cool dark cabin of my Dads sailboat listening to the sound of water slapping rhythmically on the sides of the fiberglass. I don’t know how old I was when my Dad took my brother and me on a sailing campout. It was just after sunset and we were anchored far enough off shore to be safe from running aground. I remember that I felt fortunate to be a part of this adventure. I remember that during these times my Dad was really busy and always seemed to be working. I felt fortunate that he took time to spend with us. I don’t remember what we did or how we passed the time, just images. The cabin was cozy and felt safe, but I wanted to go above deck to watch the stars. The smell of Dinty Moore beef stew boiling on the gimbaled stove came from the cabin. We listened intently to Dad tell us about how faraway the stars were. We learned about the speed of light.
A few years later during summer break my Dad had some landscape rocks delivered to the house. Since I was home he had me greet the delivery driver and handle the payment. I was in middle school at the time and took the responsibility very seriously. The dump truck showed up a little late and set up behind out house which opened up to an open field. He dumped the load of head sized boulders and left. There wasn’t much room between the back fence and a fire lane and the dump truck driver didn’t care much about precision. Part of the fence broke and a large portion of the stones blocked the fire lane. I worked for hours moving stones. It was hard work and I had better things to do, but I kept at it until the work was done. I didn’t do it because I was afraid of my Dad being angry, or to impress him, or even to get a reward or thanks. I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do. I learned that ethic from my Dad.
Another day on the lake sailing, I was older, but not much wiser. It was a race day and I crewed for my uncle on his Hobie-cat. The weather was bad, but that was to be expected. It was February and the race was called the ‘Frostbite Series’ for a reason. My Dad was the Commodore of the yacht club and was doing his duty on the committee boat acting as starting line and score keeper. A more important duty followed shortly as the wind became too much for most boats and sailors to handle. He called the race due to dangerous weather and everyone headed for home. There were a few racers whose boats were especially unsuited for such weather. And the weather was real bad. My Uncle and I just made it to shore and had to take the sails down and pull the boat behind us along the shore line just to make it home. My Dad braved the weather and searched out people stranded on their capsized boats. Reaching over the rails he hauled in men who were at the limit of cold and exhaustion. He sent them below decks and kept them warm with dry towels and had them drink Cavasier cognac mixed in hot chocolate. One man was convinced that Dad saved his life and sends Dad a bottle every year. My Dad was a hero to him.
Part of what I am today is from learning how to be man from my Dad.
I like who I am and how I turned out.