Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ted, Dad, Pappa

It is Sunday night and I wonder what my “Story of the Week” will be. It should be posted already, but it is not. I considered taking the week off.  It has been a week like none I’ve had before and perhaps it would be understandable to not get the writing done this week. My father died at home surrounded by his family on Monday.  He passed with dignity, strength and on his own terms - just as he wished. I wrote about his last days, “Glimpses of Heaven” last week.  Our entire family gathered and stayed with my mom in our childhood home for the week as we prepared for the memorial service on Friday that would celebrate dad’s life. Certainly it would be understandable to not get a story written this week.

But that is not how my dad rolls. He taught me to set goals, work hard and push on through the tough stuff. When I was eight years old my family built a log cabin in the wilderness of Nova Scotia after dad had declared that his family was no longer fit for public camping. The most difficult part of building that cabin was creating the foundation. Day after day we carried rocks up from the lake to the cleared cabin site. We heard dad’s voice constantly yelling, “Bring A Rock!”

For all of us that has become our mantra for getting through the tough stuff. So today I write and “bring yet another rock”.

When people ask me how I became a storyteller, I say it was no accident. My mother was a wonderful storyteller and my father was a story.  I used to think we were a normal family until I started sharing our stories, then I realized that thanks to my father’s adventurous spirit and my mother’s trust in him, I grew up in a tall tale.

In addition to my father’s death this week, it was also my youngest son, Joel’s twentieth birthday. There has always been a special bond between Joel and his Pappa. I believe it started with a watch from the 1930’s. One of my dad’s favorite stories to hear me tell was, “The Watch” which is a story of trouble, love and forgiveness. It is a story that binds my son, Joel and my father.

Years ago when Joel’s dad left us, I decided to return to my maiden name. I was worried that my sons would want me to continue to share their last name, but when I talked with Joel his answer was, “Pappa loves me, can I be a Johnson too?” My heart broke, and I understood his bond to his Pappa.

My dad had an amazing capacity for love. He valued people – friends, family and acquaintances. He took the time to love and taught all he connected with the value of time. Love is spelled, T I M E.

So I think my post this week will simply be a highlight of some of my favorite dad stories. Click on a link, above and below - enjoy a laugh, ponder a lesson and take the time to love this week.

Favorite lessons from dad:
"To the Trees!"   How to sooth the soul - it's way cheaper than therapy.

"Don't Leave Family Behind"  Dad on the importance of family.

audio recording of "The Watch"

(c) 6.23.2013 Martha Reed Johnson