Monday, June 20, 2011

Father(s) Dearest

"Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad."-Anne Geddes

While I only have one true father, I have multiple men in my life who have raised me and helped mold me into the person I am today. Forgive me while I travel down memory lane, it's a road I often travel.

Grandpa and I
I'd like you to meet my Grandpa, my mom's father, Cirilo Salazar. Grandpa is one of a kind. He has one of the kindest hearts and I've never known him to raise his voice. 

My mom tells a story about a time when my mom and my Uncle Rick were kids and Grandpa was in charge of them for the day. When Grandpa asked them what they wanted for lunch, they said, "Ice cream!" Seeing this as a reasonable answer, they did indeed have ice cream for lunch! Oh Grandpa. 

He has this incredible strength of will that I have only yet to aspire to. Grandpa smoked for many years of his life, and one day, he just decided to quit. Just like that. He hasn't smoked since.

I love when Grandpa picks up the phone when I call them. Grandpa will answer, "Hellooo? Who is this?" When I answer, "It's Rachel, Grandpa!" he chuckles delightedly in this charming way that makes me wish I could reach through the phone and give him a big hug. Grandpa refuses to tell any stories about Mom being naughty growing up ("She was a perfect child!"), loves waking up early to drink his morning coffee while ironing his shirts and watching the morning shows, and told me with enthusiasm today how he was learning new things about his Blackberry every day! It's impossible to meet my Grandpa and not love him; he's incredibly friendly, curious about other's lives, and always hungry for 

Robert Lee Bailey is one of those men who was built from hardy stock who had  to work hard for everything in his life. His life wasn't always easy but he was a blessing to everyone he encountered. It's been 11 years since he's been gone. 11 years since I've heard his soft chuckle and seen his radiant smile caress his wrinkled cheeks. 11 years since I've watched him eat so many corn-on-the-cobs that he'd get a bruise on his chin. Granddad had a lot of hearing problems at the end of his life, but we all agree that he could mysteriously hear a whisper across the room and still not be able to hear Grandma yelling at him to take off his muddy shoes. Granddad had a way with babies that was uncanny. Babies loved him and were easily soothed in his arms. Babies have a funny way of recognizing the size of the heart of the person holding them, I think. Granddad's heart is as big as they get.

Granddad at Stanley Lake
One of the greatest things that my granddad ever did for me was instill a love of nature and the mountains, specifically the mountains at Stanley Lake in Idaho. He brought my dad there when he was a kid, my dad brought me as a kid, and I intend to carry on the tradition and bring my kids there in years to come. Even after Granddad's death, whenever we go to Stanley Lake, we feel his presence there with us very strongly. One year, a shovel we kept propped up on a tree was continually found on the ground. We all solemnly agreed that it was Granddad, letting us know he was there as well.

Granddad and I
I miss him a lot but his memory lives on as I try to lead a life he would want me to live.

My Dad has helped throughout my entire life. He helped me learn how to walk (I was a late bloomer; my parents thought they were going to have to carry me into preschool), how to do many years of Math, how to work hard, how to overcome failure and expect success, and how to love without fear and with my whole heart. He gave me my love of music, my stubbornness, and my sarcasm. But he's given me so much more than that. He's a person who always cheers me on and knows my potential even when I doubt it.

There are a lot of times in my life where I am reaching towards my dad for help. He's the person I called when I had failed my first test in college and the person who made me feel like moving my senior year was not going to be the end of my world. He can turn any drive in the car into a meaningful discussion about my life as he continues to give advice to me that has changed my life for the better. He's my support system and I couldn't ask for a better Dad. Not Father, Dad.

I love my dad. All three of them.

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