It’s my third father’s day without my dad, and just yesterday I finally dropped off a stone to be carved for his marker. It took a while, but like he told me once, some things take time.
I’m not always a patient person. I get frustrated as I learn a new skill and progress is never as fast as I’d like it to be. It was in high school that he gave me that little gem. I was practicing a trumpet solo in my bedroom and I kept stumbling over the same passage. I must have played it 100 times, and never the right way.
It must have sounded like torture from the living room in that tiny rambler. But as I stormed out and past him, he didn’t look phased. He glanced up from his paper and said “sounds good.”
“Are you kidding?” I replied. “I can’t get it.”
“Yet,” he said.
He never said a lot, and I’m sure I didn’t appreciate much of it at the time. Then he said, “Some things take time,” and he went back to his paper.
One thing I’ve learned through working on A Peace of My Mind is that some things are worth waiting for. Some things are worth working for. Rewards aren’t often instant, but there is something worthy in playing the long game and always pressing forward.
My dad failed a grade in elementary school but went on to earn a master’s degree. He held high school track records but then got injured in football and carried a back injury with him for the rest of his life, but he still always hiked the mountain trails during our summer vacations.
He made the down payment on his first house by offering to paint it, because as he liked to say it, “we didn’t have a pot to piss in.” Yet he managed to help fund his grandkids’ college education in a way we couldn’t when the recession pulled the rug out from under us.
He just quietly kept moving on.
The picture up top is from the memorial service we held for my dad at our farm after he passed away. Just a small gathering and some friends playing music. We planted this grove of trees for my mom when she died a decade earlier and his marker will be placed next to hers when it’s complete.
I’ve done my best to keep Grandma’s Grove mowed and trimmed, because I know he would have liked that. Even after a long, hot weekend of working in our Christmas tree fields, I would go up to mow it. And every time, I’d look at the spot where his stone should be, and feel a little guilty.
We could have done the stone faster but I didn’t want one from a store. I wanted one from my stone mason friend in Kansas. It took a while. Then I couldn’t find anyone to carve it, because it was rustic and not very smooth. Then I found a guy, but the stone was buried under snow and ice so I had to wait for spring. Then spring got busy.
Finally, I dropped the stone yesterday, and just in time. The guy I found is retiring and selling all his equipment in a few weeks. He lives in a quiet little valley about two hours from my home and when I dropped the stone, he wanted to talk…about details of the stone and then about the person who the stone was for.
We found common ground around our national parks. I traveled with my parents to them every summer growing up, and he had done the same with his kids. He talked about how he would pull out the photo albums on cold winter days to thumb through and I told him that when my dad’s memory was failing, it was the only thing he could still recall…all those trips…so we would revisit the albums and talk about the things we had seen.
Dad, thanks for teaching me patience. For helping to make me the stubborn, forward-plodding person that I am. For the love of the outdoors and for teaching me how to trim a tree. Thanks for being patient waiting for your stone…I think it will be worth the wait.
To all the dads, father figures, role models, grandpas, big brothers, and others who have stepped in when a dad couldn’t or wouldn’t be there…Happy Father’s Day.