Saturday, June 18, 2011

Travels with My Dad

When I was a child my Dad took our family on many trips. 

He took us camping.  This was “drive up to the campsite and set up a tent” kind of camping.  We camped our way from Maryland to Mississippi, from there to the Grand Canyon, and also to the border of Mexico.  We camped from Maryland to New Brunswick, Canada.  We camped in the Florida Keys.  When everyone else’s family was luxuriating in hotels, we were setting up camp.

He taught us how to pack everything on top of the car and tie it down with a tarp.  He would time us to see how fast we could do it.  When we were camping in furious rain, my Dad always switched with one of us kids if our sleeping bag got wet (notice, though, that he did not replace the leaky tent.) 

He also took us to unusual places.  After we camped our way to the border of Mexico, we made our way through parts of Mexico by train.  He took us to his childhood haunts in Punjab, India and to Srinagar, Kashmir.

My Dad was usually a pretty stern guy. But not always. When I was in my 20s we took a family trip to Pakistan.  We were hiking in some high mountains above the Swat River Valley when I discovered my fear of heights.  Almost paralyzing.  My brother chose to walk up the rest of the mountain, but my father stayed with me and coaxed me down the steep mountainside.  His staying by my side meant the world to me.  And I was an adult, not a child, at the time. Parents, even if your kid is an adult, it's not too late to show love.

My father now is 82 years old and nearly crippled by Parkinson's Disease.  That walk down the mountainside now means more to me than ever.  And my Dad still is teaching me about courage as he deals with this terrible disease.  Thanks, Dad, for showing me the world.
My Dad, celebrating his 70th birthday in 1998 - running in a potato race.


Angie said...

I, too, grew up camping. I still enjoy it. We did have a camper, the kind that fits snug up on the back of a pick-up truck. I didn't start tent camping till I was in my 20s and on my own.

PS: I have a neat article about a yo-yo champ in July's Boys' Life issue.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

He sounds like a great dad. And an inspiring man.

Renee said...

My dad is totally the absent-minded professor type --in fact, at times when I was in school where he was teaching, he could walk right by me on campus without seeing me. I don't think he's ever camped a day in his life. :-)

However, while we didn't do camping, he was always the guy who knew everything --I could ask him anything about anything academic, and he knew the answer. I love spending time with him.