Press On, Regardless

Today my Dad would have turned 70 years old.

I knew this fact but it snuck up on me just the same. I found myself crying yesterday remembering something pretty great about him and realizing how much I miss him.

In honor of his birthday, I was thinking of things we could do that remind me of him.

Perhaps a trip to the bookstore, as he loved books and had a particular fondness for poetry. He knew lots of poems by heart and also had tons of really great quotes floating around in his brain to pull out at appropriate times.

A trip to the hardware store always reminds me of him because he could make even the most mundane thing magical. Now that I’m older, I get it because Peter is very similar. It’s a man shop full of lots of stuff, or as my Dad called them, “treasures”. We would slowly walk down each aisle and he would grab something and say “Look at THIS! You know what this does?”

Or a trip to the museum because he loved learning and never stopped asking questions or wanting to know more about something I can still hear him say “Isn’t that neat?” (Keep in mind, dear reader, that the use of the word “neat” may seem old fashioned or perhaps even lame these days but the way he said it was so earnest. If he said something was neat, it was pretty awesome.)

I thought of him yesterday because I took the kids to Wash Park in Denver to rent a paddle boat and then have a picnic lunch. (I would like to publicly thank my mom and sister, who, when I told them the story of what we did, appropriately gasped and ooohed and ahhhed, validating that I was, in fact, a fun and generous mother.)

Imagine my dismay that they complained and fought most of the hour on the lake. Wha? This is fantastic and novel, you should be overflowing with gratitude!

Finn hated it but Hadley loved it. My little naturalist was in heaven pointing out cormorants and pelicans, along with a flock of ducks, of course. One duck followed us the entire time and Hadley named her Amelia. She said more than once she wished she had a notepad and her bird monocle. Finn was bored and doesn’t enjoy anything where you’re sitting still for long periods of time.

We ended up taking the boat back early because I couldn’t handle the fighting anymore. We got our lunches (me talking through my teeth and dragging them behind me) and sat down to eat. H&F noticed squirrels and started throwing Goldfish crackers to them. Pretty soon, we were hand feeding one of the squirrels. Finn said “This is the best time in my entire life!”

Really? In your entire life?

Life is funny that way. The thing you expect to bring the most joy, often doesn’t. And the ridiculously simple things can often bring absolute delight. The three of us gushed about how we each hand fed a squirrel while walking to the car. My Dad loved Goldfish crackers and hated squirrels. He called them “tree rats.” I laughed to myself thinking of the things he would be saying if he was there.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned many many times before a quality that I loved about my Dad but it’s worth repeating because it’s a good one. Every time he saw me, he lit up. That means SO much to a kid. It meant so much to me. To see that he was genuinely happier because I had arrived. I keep that with me all of the time and try to do the same with my kids.

My mom and Pellegrinos are coming over tonight for dinner. We’re going to toast Roger Padden. Often times, when we were together, he would raise a glass and say “It’s good to be with you.” Simple, yet perfect and heartfelt. I find myself saying it now too.

Oct-Nov 2008 015

Happy 70th, Dad. It was good to be with you.

9 comments:

Beth | July 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM

My favorite part, the toast "It's good to be with you" love it.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman | July 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Emily - This post made me tear up. I am sorry you had to say goodbye to your father, and while I am not sure what my thoughts are on the hereafter, I am certain that your father is somewhere warm and happy, smiling down on you today, and filled with joy that he raised such a fabulous daughter. Cheers to him, and to you, on his birthday! - J

Emily | July 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM

B - I agree. Love it. I can still hear him saying it.

J- Thanks for your sweet note! Cheers right back to you.

Meg | July 13, 2011 at 1:00 PM

I just love this. So many things remind me of Dad....like you mentioned: bookstores, hardware stores, finding magic in the mundane....But you know what else reminds me of Dad? You. And Mom. Andrew. Neil. Even the dogs. And, when I'm all alone and it's dark, I guess I remind myself of him too. He's never too far. ;) Happy 70th RMP.

Kate Geddes | July 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM

To you Padden girls, you fill my heart with your love. I, too, loved your dad, my brother in law, and miss him to this day. What a spectacular man. What generous, loving girls he and Ellen have raised. Love, Aunt Kathleen

theconciergemom | July 13, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Emily- this is a beautiful tribute to your dad. Just loved reading it.

Claire | July 14, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Happy Birthday Mr. P! And much love EKP and the Padden clan. What a legacy he left in all of you. <3

Happy Habitat | July 16, 2011 at 8:39 AM

What a special thing to see him light up when he saw you- especially as an adult, to still see that. I hope to be able to always do that for my kids. Roger- thanks for the gift to me and m kids on your b day!

Aimee | July 17, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Emily, beautifully written. I didn't know whether to laugh, smile or tear up..and I think I did all 3 by the time I got to the end. Your father must have been a great man to have raised such an awesome daughter.