This Father’s day weekend is a big one in our family. June 19th we will celebrate the wedding of our daughter. It is also the birthday of my father, who would be celebrating his 87th birthday if he hadn’t died at the age of 39. He died in a terrible storm on June 30th, 1967 – 48 years ago. I was almost 6 years old.
I remember very little of what life was like prior to that sad evening, but I’m so grateful for a very special memory that I believe occurred shortly before he died.
My father had acquired a very damaged canoe and rebuilt it. It was pale blue in color. He had also built a carrier that allowed him to walk down the street, pulling the canoe which was positioned on a cart made from two bicycle tires. My dad was an engineer and very creative!
I remember clearly that summer morning he quietly surprised me at sunrise. Waking just me and not my sister in the bunk below for what I would now call a daddy-daughter date. With five children, this was a rare moment, and I believe it was the only time that I had a one on one with my dad.
We walked to Northwood Lake at the bottom of Ensign street in the village of New Hope, Minnesota. The canoe could slide from the carrier to the water. I got in the front and my dad in the back. He gave me brief instruction on how to use the paddle. The morning was so beautiful and quiet. The birds, movement of water and tall grasses was all that broke the calm. It was the most peaceful time I can remember in my childhood. I’m extremely thankful for the dad he was and that time with his children was important to him.