Monday, September 29, 2014

let us celebrate dear friends.

When I was in fourth grade, we drove across the United States. We had a beautiful RV equipped with internet, satellite TV, and Nintendo 64. Long stretches of driving were spent with dad at the wheel, mom navigating, and the two of us blonde-haired California kids stretched out on the master bed playing Mario Kart or Zelda until our thumbs ached and our necks were tired of craning to see the screen. Sometimes we'd fight over the movies, not Girls Just Wanna Have Fun AGAIN, others we'd sleep fitfully as the plains and skylines passed outside our windows.

Nights that ran later than expected, distances harder to cover than time allowed, were spent in rest stops or Walmart parking lots. A one night stand with neon lights or trucker men or pig trucks full of squealing mad swine before we rose to eat and be on our way again. Showers run by quarter slots and air toilets that were water-free, a travelers life was adventure surely.

Five weeks hopping across state lines from one Kampground (why the K?) of America -KOA- to the next. We knew we had arrived the moment an A-frame manager's office came into view, usually flanked by some sort of play yard complete with a self-spun merry-go-rounds and a basketball court. Sometimes if we were lucky, there'd be a green, cloudy fishing lake with small, spiny fish to catch. We'd spend hours balling up Valveeta, baiting our hook, and casting lines. He taught us to take a fish off the thorny hook without jabbing our fingers, kiss it goodbye, and toss it back into it's watery haven.
But, only so many fish can be caught, so many games of H-O-R-S-E shot, so many Razor scooter laps completed before dad would grow tired of entertaining us. He'd be weary from long hours at the helm and wish for some space from childhood while we played outside. So, being the problem solver he was, took to making us friends.

As soon as that first morning's light dawned on the spectacle that was us, he'd drag us out to follow him on our bikes and "help" us make some friends -who doesn't need friends from other states? he'd say. We'd ride along behind him, rolling our eyes, blushing with embarrassment. And he'd find them -boys and girls, young and older, families and only children. We'd play basketball or fish or swing and slide. We'd giggle and laugh and, as it is with kids, the shyness would melt away really fast.

Now, despite me being a grown-up girl who can make her own friends, he's doing it still -making me friends, that is. He's letting me share our story and he's sneaking into your hearts and bringing you here where we're getting to know one another, letting the shyness melt away, sharing in the real shit that makes up our lives. And while he's doing the introducing, you and I are doing the getting to know one another, we're skipping small things and diving deep into BIG ones, we're doing friendship good.


Happy Birthday (a day early) Dad, 
Thanks for throwing us into the friendly fire.
Making friends has always been something I wish I did like you.
I guess it's important to find the way that works for me, 
That's surely what you would say. 
I hope you're celebrating your birthday today even if it's not in the typical way. 
You can finish your journey onto Heaven now. 
We'll miss you something fierce. 
And love you something deep. 
Celebrating you,
am

30 comments:

  1. Happiest of happy birthdays to your dad! I love hearing of your stories and memories of him while you were growing up :)

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  2. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvSeptember 29, 2014 at 6:34 AM

    Happy Birthday to your dad. I love the way you find ways to celebrate his nature and his love for you, always.

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  3. What a wonderful childhood memory, and what a great pop you have.

    Happy early birthday, Popsicle! You are so celebrated by so many!

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  4. I can't think of anyone in the world who deserves a happier birthday and who is lucky enough to have something so sweet, so kind, so touching, written for them. Happy Birthday Amber's Dad.

    -Kate
    www.theflorkens.com

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  5. That sounds like so much fun! My family always made travel a priority when we were little and I'm so grateful for that. Great parents make those family vacations (with forced friendships :) happen. Something I hope to pass onto my little ones. Happy Birthday to your Pops <3

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  6. How sweet! Your photos are beautiful! Happy bday to your dad!

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  7. Oh my gosh that last paragraph is so perfect Amber. Happy almost birthday Popsicle! You are touching so many lives through with the help of your family.

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  8. Happy birthday Popsicle - what special memories made with a very special man. Please give him an extra tight birthday squeeze from me x

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  9. As I was reading this (through tear-filled eyes, which is the norm when I read your posts) I was taken back to my own childhood vacations and remembering the special times. So glad you have such special memories, and SO glad you choose to share them with your readers, too!

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  10. Your writing just makes me emotional. Can you go ahead and write a book already? I just want to hug your neck. You are a special kind of person, my dear friend.

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  11. Here's wishing that the beautiful memories you created together live richly in your hearts forever!

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  12. And this is why I love blogging. Because there are so many beautiful stories like this one that wouldn't be able to be shared without it.

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  13. <3 Your dad sounds like he really was a n amazing man! You were so blessed to grow up with such a loving dad!

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  14. happy birthday to your popsicle! this is such a great celebration of him, his life and his gifts to you and the world. love you.

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  15. thank youuuu! he was/is such a special man AND i got some of those genetics so i guess i'm special too! :) love you dear one.

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  16. He was so amazing (and sometimes I really didn't appreciate because being a teenager and all)... :)

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  17. Isn't it amazing to see stories that started so many years ago and weren't just a whim but a whole tale to be told? ...Or is that just me? :)

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  18. You are so dear to me. So. Dear. :)

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  19. I love neck hugs! SO MUCH BETTER than side hugs that are all awkward and so army. :)


    The writing will begin the moment I get home from work... With an iced latte -WHEN DOES OCTOBER BECOME FALL BECAUSE IT ISN'T AND I'M GROUCHY?

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  20. Where your vacations in a ridiculous RV that your dad didn't know how to operate and then the fuel lines blew out because the gas froze in the mountains that we had bought in the desert? Ohhhhh, damn, just my dad. ;)

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  21. Love you. I will give him an extra squeeze when we see him and tell him THIS is from around the world Pop. :)

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  22. Oh thank you dear friend. Thank you for getting it and for just knowing where I'm coming from even when it's muddled and messy and I hardly know how to put it all into words. :)

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  23. Thank you! Who knew pictures we laughed so hard over would be SO cherished!?!

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  24. It was so fun... Though sometimes absolutely mortifying. :) Yes, please pass it down because you know they'll cherish it just as much as we do now. :)

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  25. Oh my. I love you. You're just, so, yes. You're got me all at a loss for words. <3

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  26. Such a wonderful memory and an even more wonderful man! :) Hope you ate a piece of cake (or three) yesterday in celebration with all of us. ;)

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  27. Oh Katie, thank you. Sometimes I feel so sad that the whole celebratory thing escapes me. Sooooo, knowing it feels celebratory to others makes me THRILLED.

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  28. Oh thank you for loving them... I surely love to share them, though I realize that there were so many moments and things that I took for granted and I'm trying to remember and untangle them so I can cherish them. :)

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  29. What a sweet story! My mom used to make me sit at tables with all people I didn't know when we attended events so I would learn to talk to people. Scary! But now I have no problem (usually). :) Also, my fiance's cousin got married at a KOA last month, and it was actually awesome and so cute!

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  30. That means a lot! I've thoroughly enjoyed your blog and your courageous adventures! Hope Costa is fun!!

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