I have been thinking about Dad a lot the last several days. He died, a year ago today. For a long year, it has gone by quickly. I know he was ready to go—and we all said he would be glad to be with Mom again in time to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday is 7 February, and she has been gone since November 2012. I miss them both.
My best memories of Dad involve treks into nature to take pictures. Dad took all sorts of photos over the years: wedding, yearbook photos, specialty group photos, and church directories. But he seemed to most enjoy taking nature shots and making cards from the photos to sell in the neighborhood. He did not have other hobbies, not golf or even a favorite football team. It made it hard to buy things for him—there is only so much film he could use.
Over the years, Dad and I took many little photo trips together. Those trips were a nice gift for both of us. I can see him taking his time to focus on a flower, bird or vista. He often wore his hat to keep the sun off his face. We traveled up and down California, enjoying the views and spotting whales, otters, coyotes, lots of wildflowers, and even some humming birds.
Whether it was a quick trip to the Los Angeles County Arboretum or the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Wetland or weekend retreats to Yosemite National Park, Bishop or Monterey, we always had a good time. We were always content to just sit and wait for the sun to create different shadows, for the butterflies to stand still, or for an animal to get used to our presence. We were comfortable with each other in those silences.
I value those memories and our time together. I think of him when I enjoy my photo trips to Nature. Next week I am heading to Death Valley. I’ve never been there; neither has Dad. We periodically said we would get there some day. I expect he’ll be with me at least in spirit.