My dad’s first memory of me is of a tiny girl gasping for breath because of fluid-filled air passages. I think maybe he’s always seen me that way. Constantly struggling against something; the boundaries he set for me, other people’s expectations, the status quo, my own limitations. I guess there will always be something that someone thinks I can’t do; some new obstacle for me to get past, some comfort zone to break out of.
I’ve learned it from him. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched my dad take something that someone else has given up on – and fix it, or solve it, or heal it. I think there’s something about the attitude of “it’s impossible” that my dad sees as a challenge. And he’s patient and persistent enough that he usually seems to conquer whatever it is he’s taken on.
His attention to detail is something I admire about him – and something I’ve slowly learned from him. One of my vivid mental pictures of my father is him with a broom at the end of a church event, sweeping up the last little details after everyone else has “finished” and left. I love that he is so intelligent and capable of so many big things, and yet it’s never been beneath him to clean up after people. On family trips he was always the last one out of the hotel; he’d make a final check of the room and come out with all the things that we would have left behind. I’ve learned from him that little things matter; that a job isn’t really done until the smallest details are taken care of; that no one is too important to take care of menial tasks.