Recently, on a photo that I shared of me and my father and brother on Facebook and Instagram, my bestie Kristin commented this: "I love you so much bestie! The beautiful thing is that you and him shared so much creativity, and I really believe this recent need to be creative is him moving through you." I read that comment a few times and just thought to myself “huh.That’s an interesting idea…” And the more that I brewed on it, the more it deeply, deeply resonated with me. What a wonderful seed to be planted in my brain and in my heart. Because when I reflect on my life and my childhood, it’s absolutely true.
I am a kid that definitely fits with the parents that she was given. People would meet my dad and say that I looked like him, and shared the same happiness that he did, and people meet my mom and are quick to point out that our senses of humors are almost identical. I look like both of them and I act like both of them, and for that I am grateful (although we aren’t always that way when we are young, are we?) My mom is a vivacious, humorous, and caring person -- generous and kind to the core of her. If I described her in shapes or motions (I know it’s weird but that’s how my brain works sometimes), I think of a bouncing ball that gently and gingerly bops around, always steady, always bouncing jovially. I am lucky that I have embraced some of her qualities and traits, and beyond joyful that I was raised with that kind of example of a mother. But when I think about my life and childhood, and I think about my dad, I think about big swirls of color, and dots and splatters, and music notes all rolled into one. My love of music, and my ability to carry a tune and curiosity of many instruments was definitely something that my father instilled in me. I can remember being young and sitting beside him on the bench of the huge organ that we had in our living room or his keyboard as he played “Fly Me to the Moon”, or other old songs that I grew to love. We danced to “Fly Me to the Moon” at my wedding -- it was the obvious choice. I am so grateful that we had that. I would ask him to play a song, he would take a few minutes to fickle with it, and then begin to play. His whole body would move in to and with the song, and we sat together singing on the top of our lungs. When my grandfather came to town from California, within minutes the karaoke machine was set up and the two of them would be harmonizing and crooning and I would just sit back and watch transfixed. For me, those were some of the most magical times of my childhood. Hearing my dad’s strong and beautiful singing voice, alone or mixed with my grandparents powerful one, will always be a happy place for me to return to when things get hard. I sing to myself constantly. I always have a song living in my head, and I’m either whistling or singing to myself…. a fact that I never noticed until a few years ago at my old job. I love music. And I know it’s cliche because almost everyone does as well, but I love music because my dad (and my mom!) made it such a big part of my life as I grew into the person I am now.
As my dad grew older, he was constantly creating. I joked that he had obsessions that he would dive deep in, and then move on to the next one. But they were always creatively based - he was always making something, or improving something. He loved to bake beautiful cakes for the people that he loved. He would often call me or text me and tell me that there was a bowl of my favorite chocolate orange frosting in his fridge for me. He was a wonderful photographer and had a business for awhile. He was a master at photoshop and could manipulate a photo easily. In fact, just this week, when I needed some help with the logo of my new website, I said to myself “Oh! I’ll ask my dad.” That was the first time I’d fallen in to a thought like that and it was jarring. But I know that he could have handled it totally, and easily. He collected tools for awhile in order to make projects around the house. When David and I got married, my dad pulled us aside to tell David the one embarrassing story of my childhood (HA), where I accidentally told an entire congregation of church goers that my family puts “utensils” on our tree. It’s my legacy, the utensil story. And so my father presented us with a box of various serving utensils, that he had taken the time to adorn in glitter -- because that was just so his way. He delighted in wrapping presents for people and used beautiful and rich wrapping paper and bows and things. It was hard to open the presents he gave you because they were so immaculately wrapped. In fact, this year, before we lost him, he didn’t even put up a tree -- he just stacked wrapped empty boxes that he had taken time to wrap in a gorgeous pile against the fireplace. I spent a lot of time staring at that tree after he was gone, unti I went over one day and it was gone. It was so perfectly dad. I wish it could have stayed forever. And if he were still alive, it very well might have. I know that he must have delighted in gazing at it, just like I did.
As I move through my adult life, I’m finding more and more ways to express my creativity. And in the past few weeks, I’ve felt this surge and pull to create constantly, and take it to different levels. And I think that Kristin is right -- I think that it is my dad, pulling me towards it and working through me. He isn’t done creating yet, and he knows that I will never stop, so he’s taking this time to nudge me along, and help me be bold. Because if there was one thing that my dad was, it was bold. In all areas of his life. He lived and loved loudly, and completely unashamedly. Every single day I hope that I can do the same, and keep that legacy of caring going. I am so grateful for everything that I got from both of my parents. But above all, the desire and ability to express myself in multiple ways is one that I can say is unquestionably at the top of my lucky list.