A love letter to my co-parent:
Doesn’t this photo bring back lots of memories! What a great dad you were in those days, and your capacity to nurture and care for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews has grown with time.
I looked for digitized photos of you and the kids together but there are only lots of photos of the kids. Lots of photos from camping trips we did “on the cheap” at state forests like House Lake, east of Harrison in Michigan’s lower peninsula. You aren’t in the picture, but you were very much there. We raised our children in an era when men were suppose to be involved with their careers while women stayed home taking care of children. But you were always involved with our children – both at home and away.
Seeing this photo brings a flood of memories of us, together, having fun, creating fun for our kids. You were there, working along side me to open the pop-up camper, get out the lantern and cook stove, the wooden box you made that served as our kitchen, the ice chest, and struggle with that heavy canvas awning – just in case it rained. You taught the kids how to collect and cut wood for the evening campfire – and took them fishing, although I don’t remember having any fish dinners as a result. We found and picked wild strawberries for supper and blueberries for breakfast pancakes although not many made them back to the camper. We went swimming when we needed showers because at this campground we had to pump and carry our water. And we hiked, looking for streams to play in and sticks to drag and stones to throw – and this chimney that stirred our imagination and provided a prop for the photo.
All those years you were doing exactly what you were designed to do so it doesn’t seem special to you. But I know differently. I know what a special dad and uncle you have been (remember all the nieces and nephews and friends we took camping with us). And the kids remember, and adore you; I can tell by how they interact with you. Remember the fall that Mike and his two young sons went camping with us. We stayed in Gladwin because they have hook-ups, but Mike wanted to take the boys to House Lake so they could spend the day doing the things that Mike so fondly remembers. He has this same photo hanging on his wall but with Zach and Alex are sitting on the ledge.
I don’t spend a lot of energy on these “Hallmark Day” but today I am saying a prayer of thankfulness for you. By being such a great father, you made it possible for me to be a better mother and you helped me be a better person.
Thank you, sweetheart, for your dedication to your family. I love you very much.