These are my father's hands...the hands that helped raise me and shape me into the person I am today. It's not often that I've written a tribute to my Dad--in fact, I think this may be the first time I've ever done so. However, my Dad recently turned 75 years old and I want him to know just how much I love him and understand just how much he's positively impacted my life.
My Dad is part of the older generation of men--a generation who demonstrated their love for their families by working hard and providing for them. Because of my father's hard work, talent and dedication, his business began to flourish which enabled my mom to stay home and raise all five of us kids. Furthermore, we were able to live in a comfortable home, pursue our passions, take lessons, play a multitude of sports, attend camps, study and travel abroad and graduate from the colleges we wanted (debt free). It was only after I became an adult and parent myself, that I was truly able to appreciate the sacrifices my Dad made for us and realize just how positively life changing these gifts and opportunities were.
My Dad also impacted my life in so many other ways as well. For starters, he instilled in me a love of the outdoors that has been a driving force throughout my life. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve summers spent hiking the Appalachian Trail with my Dad and brother Bill as well as our many family camping trips--whether we were in coastal Maine, the Florida Keys or dozens of other places in-between. My Dad was always willing to nurture this love of the outdoors and adventure as well. I remember when I was about 11 years old, I became obsessed with the book My Side of the Mountain--the story of a 13 year old boy who runs away from home and survives off the land in the Catskill Mountains. I desperately wanted to do that--survive off the land by myself, not run away. So one three day weekend, my Dad humored me and he and I drove to the Allegheny Mountains of New York. He literally slept in a shack, while I went into the woods to survive on my own. It was a grand adventure--I spent the days searching for food and spent the crystal clear nights sleeping out under the stars. I even had a raccoon walk across my sleeping bag one of the nights. But to be honest, three very hungry days later, I was ready to go home--and eat!
My Dad also imparted a physical and mental toughness in me that has served me well. My Dad is not a whiner or complainer--he's much more a "suck it up and get it done" kind of guy. He's tough and not much bothers him. For example when he sawed off a couple of his fingers at work, he calmly reached down into the sawdust pile, picked them up, walked over to my brother and said he probably should go to the ER. I'm not quite sure I'm that tough, but I will say that it takes a lot to faze me. I can be covered in leeches in the jungles of Borneo, get the crap beat out of me while going through Prisoner of War training, or be attacked by swarms of mosquitoes in the Alaskan backcountry, and I'll (barely) complain.
However, the greatest gifts my Dad gave me aren't material in nature or don't have to do with my love of the outdoors or being tough--instead, the greatest gifts my Dad gave me are two fold. First, there was never a doubt in my mind that my father loved me unconditionally. I always knew, no matter what, that my Dad would love me and be there for me if I needed him. And secondly, my father had an unwavering belief in me. He truly believed I could do or be anything I wanted. He had complete confidence in my abilities and as a result, that confidence rubbed off onto me (and all my siblings). Bob jokingly calls it the crazy Moslow self-confidence gene--and it's true. My siblings and I all are blessed with a strong sense of self-worth and can-do attitudes. And when I think about it, having parents who love you unconditionally and believe in you wholeheartedly, is really all a child truly needs.
I know at times my Dad can be a bit self-conscious about his hands, but I absolutely love them exactly how they are. I think my Dad's hands tell the tale--the story of a man who loved his wife and children and literally and figuratively worked his fingers to the bone to provide them with tremendous opportunities and gifts. So on this Father's Day, I want to publicly thank my Dad for all he's done for me. From the day I was born until now, my Dad has loved me, believed in me, supported me and helped make me who I am. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I love you Dad...I hope I've made you proud!