This picture was taken while I was pregnant with Kiersta.
It's been just over 3 months since my dad passed away. Just over a week ago there was finally a memorial service for my dad. The service was so very nice. I learned a lot about my dad. Many people got up to speak, share memories of him, and voice how he had influenced their lives. It was really neat to hear of so many different facets of my dad's life. While I knew many of the stories (one of my favorites is from when he worked at Yosemite: he used to take his photos to Ansel Adams to be critiqued!) and knew about all these different sides of my dad, I also felt a little guilty; I didn't appreciate my dad the same way that all of these other people did. One of my friends pointed out that my dad was my dad and not my friend. He took his role of parenting very seriously. I certainly didn't appreciate his parenting while I was a teenager, but he was doing his job and doing it well.
Because of my dad, I learned to love nature and traveling. I grew up going to Yosemite several times a year. Road trips, camping, backpacking, and trips to Sweden were all regular events in my childhood. My dad gave me my first camera and I put it to good use, following his example. My dad was a physicist and I also love science and learning. My dad put his family first and was home for dinner every night at the same time; I wish I could learn to be as regular as he was. While I didn't appreciate my dad while I was growing up, I can now see what a good parent, and person, he really was.
Yesterday would have been my dad's 80th birthday. Brian, Kiersta, Anders, Heather, and I went over to my mom's house for dinner. We had made it through the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Anders' birthday all without my dad being there, but all of these events were celebrated at restaurants or my house. This was the first time we were having a meal at my mom's house. I agonized over who would sit in my dad's spot at the dinner table and realized that no one would or should, yet. My mom had a small heart shaped votive candle placed on the table at my dad's seat and it was just perfect. We ate foods that my dad loved for dinner. We didn't have a birthday cake, instead my mom made a kick-ass apple pie. This dinner was a very fitting tribute to my dad. He liked nothing more than seeing the family together and spending time with us. He would have enjoyed this birthday very much.
My gift to my dad this year will be the birth of his first grandson, due in June. Our baby boy's working title is Kyle Richard, Richard being my dad's name. I hope our boy has as much passion for life as my dad did, though maybe without quite so much stubbornness--I think I have enough stubbornness for all of us, just one more trait I inherited from my dad!