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On Birthdays, Trails, and Truths.

YES. I'm wearing overalls in that picture. DON'T JUDGE ME.

I think it’s funny that my Dad and I both regularly forgot each other’s birthdays, but now that he’s gone it’s all I think about the week leading up to his. Today it’s here.

My Dad used to take us “hiking” when we were little. I put that in quotes because my life experience has taught me that most normal people look at hiking as a fun way to explore the outdoors. My Dad, on the other hand, looked at it as a form of torture for his children. We didn’t take breaks. We didn’t take much in the way of snacks, and we didn’t stop to have fun, DAMMIT.

It wasn’t that bad. But, then again, it was. And periodically he’d let us bring friends. I’m lucky that the one friend I remember taking doesn’t hold it against me to this day. Although I did see her recently and we had another good laugh about it. You know – because she’s NORMAL and expected what NORMAL people would expect on a hike.

But sometimes? I want to hit a trail and just blaze. No stopping. No resting. Just go until I reach the end. I think that’s why I’ve been asking everyone I know about trail running. How do you “start” something like that? How many broken bones will a naturally clumsy person like me sustain?

I feel like it would be part of my tribute to him. To get out there and run on a trail. A kind of head-nod to the torturous hiking days of my childhood.

I still miss him so much. I miss talking to him regularly and hearing his commentary on my adventures. I miss his visits and watching him play with my kids. I miss his accolades, because while he didn’t over-praise me by any means, his compliments were always so sincere they had the power to wash away so many insecurities, even if just for a moment.

That’s the power of a good Daddy. And I was raised by the best Daddy. He might have yelled at me for the dreadful “B” on a math test, or he might have refused to give me permission for an outing I so desperately wanted to participate in. But he always gave me truth.

When he said, “You’re not fat!” when I sobbed in the mirror? I believed that he believed it, and that helped me more than I could ever tell him.

When he told me I was a good Mom, it washed away layers and layers of Mommy Guilt that I added to daily.

When he was in awe over my housekeeping or my cooking, it made me quit belittling my own achievements.

When he told me he liked my blog, it made me lean on it more as a crutch in my life.

I still miss it all. The trails that I hated and the truths that I depended on. I’m sure I always will. But I’d like to say that next year on his birthday I can talk about my adventures on the trails. And maybe take my own children out to torture a bit in his memory. And then we’ll come home and I’ll make sure they know how truly amazing I think they are.

That is the best tribute I can give him. To try to be half as good of a parent as he was.

I love you and miss you, Dad. Happy Birthday.

12 thoughts on “On Birthdays, Trails, and Truths.”

  1. He made life an adventure and that is what you do too. He would be so proud! Just remember to prepare your kids friends to wear good shoes before they come with you :). Much love to you and sweet memories of your dad!

  2. Very sweet tribute. And trail running? I kind of love it, even though I’m always (ALWAYS) terrified of 1) broken limbs 2) getting lost and 3) the Boogey Man. Haven’t done it in a long time, actually, but it was so much more fun that road running.

  3. Trail running is fun, but you will probably turn an ankle or two. And don’t underestimate how much water to bring. Especially in the heat of summer, it can be deceiving: “Oh, I’m in the shade and it’s cooler!” but you can dehydrate just as fast. I recommend though for sure, start with clearly marked trails below your high distance.

  4. Just go out to a trail and start running. There’s no secret to it! I think you’ll love it, it’s very different than road running and it’s nice to alternate them. But you will fall. Everyone falls. Falling is cool.

    Happy birthday to your awesome dad!

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