(I originally wrote this post last year for Father's day and for whatever reason didn't post it)
My dad is also a story teller - and so I thought I would write down two stories about my dad.
The first is when I was small, 7 or 8 years old. I entered a poem into the school art contest. The content is lost to me but I remember struggling with the words, and struggling with peer competition - a new concept. Our artwork and stories hung in the halls of Happy Valley Elementary for a week before they were judged. My poem in my scrawling hand writing (which has not since improved) was placed next to a piece of artwork by a friend, a flower made of paper cut from shiny wrapping paper. I came to school on the day we were to find out the winners hoping for a giant blue 1st place ribbon. Instead, a small green ribbon with no frills and gold writing that simply, but brutally, spelled out "participant" was pinned haphazardly over the last few lines. I had not placed. The purple petals on the flower next to mine matched perfectly with the Grand Prize ribbon attached.
When I came home that day I was upset. This was the first time I remember feeling beat out by my peers, losing confidence in myself (after all, I was the third best poet I knew - after my dad and Shel Silverstein), and feeling very very disappointed. I remember going to my room and crying, my mom sending my dad up to talk with me.
"Dad," I said "I am just so disappointed. I never should have entered. Why did I ever hope that I would ever even win?"
And I am lucky to have a Dad with incomparable insights into this world, and a knowing half smile to accompany the telling of it.
"Ah. But its good to hope. What would be the point if we didn't hope at all? We would try nothing new and we would get nowhere. Keep on with the hope."
Of all the four-letter words I learned from my Dad, this one I use the most. I have seen the igniting capability of hope, and the cruel debilitation of hopelessness, around the world. My Dad's wisdom, even now, is magic.
Another four letter word from my Dad - beer.