I was talking to my publisher recently and she related to me how her Grandpa’s garden still holds her close. Then she went on to share about her grandpa, retelling a story of the two of them in his garden.

Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Bring to mind a place that holds you. Be there. Walk around. Pull up the particulars: smells, tastes, sounds, and feelings.

We all have places that hug us and hold us tightly. Then surely there are people who do the same. On Father’s Day, I reflect on my dad’s influence on me. He works like a mirror for me sometimes. I’m often startled, especially as I grow older, at how often I reflect him!

He had grit and determination. My husband gives me the “side-eye” when I dig my heels in about something, especially if it’s a project to which I’ve committed myself. I tend to become didactic and bark out ideas and orders with lots of exclamation point hand gestures!

My dad was an early riser, studying and writing before dawn. Those are my best thinking hours as well.

He was a goal setter, plotting out action plans and checking completions off as he accomplished them. I am an outline thinker, categorizing my thoughts with bullet points and feeling radiated as I tick them off one at a time.

He was a historian, trained by hours of study, surrounded by books, keeping his eyes backwards as he strained forwards, searching for patterns, looking for enlightenment. I grab books too when digging for answers, delving into others’ words to find solutions to current situations.

As I reminisce about my dad, I recall how he always wanted us to read each and every historical marker on a stateside road trip or stop at every ruin along the way from one town to another in Lebanon. I laugh about it now as much as I complained about his inclinations then. But his spontaneous detours remind me of how history works. Current events give facts, like tomb stones lined up in a cemetery recording births and deaths. However, our personal histories peek out of sidewalk cracks and are found in the explicable detours and off-ramps of our lives.

Thank you, daddy, for teaching me more about myself!

What person, what place holds you fast?

I remember the black chevy station wagon that could always fit one more and the speedometer you loved to challenge, mashing the pedal to the floor.

I remember all the collection of stamps and how we traveled the world. And I remember feeding the rabbits, picking tomatoes, and eating everything in my bowl.

I remember books, exams, and papers cluttering mom’s dining table and all the word and math quiz games . . . as if I was able!

I remember your endless on-site lectures, your bushy eyebrows that had a life of their own and your shock when no one laughed at your corny, repetitive jokes.

I remember when your mind faded and slowly inched away, yet how you always delighted in red-ink editing one more paper I put in your day.

But most of all, I remember your stubborn head, your stubborn heart, your stubborn hugs that held on just a bit too long, but I knew without a doubt that it was your stubborn, stubborn love so disciplined to hold us all.

Dr. Sheila Graham Smith

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