His Memory

Last week my dad died.  Naturally my first inclination was to spend as much time as possible outdoors, and I’m sure the two wonderful expeditions this past weekend will find their way to the blog.  But now, thanks to a bad head cold, life has slowed down enough for me to think of my dad, his life, and his legacy.

As an archaeology and history buff, I think a lot of the remnants and physical legacy of the past, from prehistoric chipped stone tools to the abandoned foundations and cellar holes of New England, as my other blog attests.  I wonder what life was like for those who lived before me, living in these same mountains, sharing the same personalities and human traits as people everywhere, but whose lives were so different from my own.

But my dad’s legacy is much different, more immediate.  There will be no cellar holes, no physical remains of his labor – just a headstone in the Hudson Valley near Saratoga Battlefield.  Unlike the two grandfathers that I never knew, I experienced knowing Dad in person, not just through stories.

There was a time long ago when I wanted to be different from my father, when his quietude and humility were a source of embarrassment rather than pride.  I would become a leader, a man-about-town, a conversationalist!  I would stand out, not blend in!  A man of great ideas, not small facts!  But try as I might, I’ve become more and more like my dad.  My life is comfortable though unexceptional.  My accomplishments are small in the big picture but big and important to me.  I’m proud of what I am and what I’ve done but have no illusions of grandeur and importance.

When I find myself hiking quietly in the woods, I am my dad.  When I find myself picking up trash on the trail, I am my dad.  When I find myself planning visits to foreign countries, parks and historic places, I am my dad.  When I  find myself comfortable in my study, poring over some old book or map, I am my dad.  The fact is that my dad’s legacy … is me.IMG_0145a

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2 responses to “His Memory

    • Thanks for your words and thoughts. It must have been tough to have lost your dad at a younger age. I really can’t complain at all as he had a long and healthy life, going for daily walks (great idea) until just a few weeks before his death (at 92!). I consider myself very lucky for having had him in my life so long.

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