My dad recently passed away and though emotions are raw, I know they will soon fade. However, as I reflect on the time I had with him, many vivid father-daughter memories come to mind, and I never want to let them go. Here are a couple of them:
I took a road trip from LA to Boston in 2008 and my dad accompanied me on the first half of it. One of the stops along the way was Havasupai, which is just outside of the Grand Canyon. It is a hot, exposed 8 mile hike just to get down the canyon to the village where we stayed a couple of nights. On a day hike from there, we visited a series of falls. To get to the bottom of the second falls (Mooney Falls), the trail took us down a steep cliff with chains and ladders. My dad told me later that he was scared and wouldn’t have gone down but a guy about the same age as him came along and said, “Come on. Let’s go.” And so he went. I was so proud of him that day and will always remember the smile that came over his face when he overcame his fear and conquered the challenge.
Another time, when my dad came to visit me in New Zealand, I brought him to explore one of the National Parks on the South Island. We took a small plane that landed us in a secluded valley. To get to the hut where we’d be staying overnight, we had to cross a river about 20 feet wide, filled with glacial water and not entirely calm. After pondering how we’d tackle the obstacle in front of us, we proceeded to take our shoes and socks off to brave the water that came up to our knees. We had a great evening at the hut all to ourselves and the next day, we hiked out of the valley in the rain where a jet boat picked us up.
There are many more adventures I’ve shared with my dad and on all them, he never complained once, and that is what impressed me most. He didn’t complain about staying in huts with no running water or electricity; or about the thick mud pits on the tracks that we had to maneuver around; or about the precarious weather; or the length of the hikes.
Life is full of experiences like these. No matter what they are, we can either resist with fear, worry, doubt, or anger; or respond with curiosity, humility, confidence, and love. So long as we choose the latter, we will be empowered and be able to go through life and death with peace in our hearts. I thank my father for not only giving me memories I will never forget but also for showing me how to find peace in my heart where I’ll hold him forever.
I love you, Dad.