I was reminiscing with my family today about the months that I lived in Greece in college. I was lucky enough that I had family come and visit while I was there. Not only did it alleviate the homesickness that I occasionally battled, but it also gave me a chance to show my family around my new, though temporary, home.
My dad and step-grandpa came to visit in the middle of my time there and we planned an adventure. I knew seeing Greece with my dad was going to be different than seeing it with the other family who I had enjoyed visits with. You see, my dad shares the same totally nerdy love of history that I do. He is fascinated by the same kinds of things I am, we share a common political mind and I knew he would enjoy the ruins at least as much as I had. I knew he would just get it.
I didn’t have classes on Fridays while I was in Greece, so early Friday morning he and my step-grandpa rented a car and picked me up. On the way to my apartment he turned the wrong way down a one way street, which if you’ve ever driven in Athens morning traffic you know was not an idea situation. But he made it, in relatively close to one piece, and we were soon on our way.
We stopped at Thessaloniki and talked about the biblical history and looked at the platform where Paul spoke to the Thessalonians. We drove south through the Peloponnese peninsula and stopped in Sparta and other historical sites. We spent the first night in a hotel where I had a cot that periodically just broke apart for no good reason, landing me ass first on the floor.
The next morning we set out again, trying to find Mycenae and later Olympia. Only, Greece is not really all that well mapped or signed. And we got totally lost. This was 7 years ago, long before GPS units and smart phones were around, so we had our maps and a lot of empty space out in front of us trying to figure out where to turn. We decided to continue driving, that was, until we reach a ledge where the road kind of cut out.
I don’t remember exactly what happened that convinced us to, but before I knew it, we plowed over the ledge through what I think was a dried out river ravine and continued in the general direction we thought we wanted to go. And hours later, we found our destination. Together we walked through the Lion’s Gate, through burial caves and temple ruins.
In a way, seeing things through his eyes was almost better than seeing them through my own the first time. Telling him all the things I had learned about the historical sites, showing him ruins of temples, the first Olympic stadium and so many other things made the experience greater for me. We stayed in small hotel rooms and spent hours in the car, which most 20 year old girls probably don’t love. But these are memories I will absolutely never forget. Traveling those roads with my dad, ravines and all, were moments that I would never give back, never do over again, even if it meant not nearly risking our lives in a crazy ravine jump.
In so many ways I am a hybrid of my parents. From my father, I get my curly dark brown hair, my nose, my belly button, my torso, my long toes and my temperment. I can be quiet and calm, I can be laid back and easy going, I don’t mind doing things for others. But I am passionate about some things and I do not back down from those causes. I am as fiercely non-violent though it seems like an oxymoron, I hate war with all the deepest parts of my soul, I seek peace and love before all else.
My dad is a strong compass for me, pointing toward something calm, something strong. He is a place I can go when I need to vent, when I need help. He’s never one to judge and there is never any question about whether he has my best interests in mind. When planning our wedding he was always one of the first people I called after making decisions because I knew that he wouldn’t grill us about cost or location or religion, he wouldn’t bring up all the things that could go wrong, he would just tell us how excited he was for us and he would really mean it, without reservation.
I think that relationships with parents are as unique as each child themselves. I don’t value my relationship with my dad over that with my mom, nor vice versa. But I find that each is such a profound part of who I am, of what makes me me, keeps me grounded and helps explain how I became the person that I am, that I know that I could not have come to the point I have without them.
Today I celebrate my dad, for his support and unwavering excitement in all the realms of my life. I celebrate him for how he has shaped me into a passionate but calm person, how he has shown me that I can fight with conscientious thoughts not fists. I celebrate how he has instilled in me a passion for history, for politics, for knowledge. I hope that when I am a parent I can provide the same guidance he has given me, the same unwavering love and support through good and bad times, the same nerdy love for government and history. I hope that he knows that I have lived so much of my life wanting to make him proud of me, that there are few trophies, few achievements that could top his approval.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. I hope this is more creative than the Kindle card I settled on. You are impossible to shop for. But I love you tremendously anyway.