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Dad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Dad's height has always made him seem so solid; at 6'4", he's more than just a bittall. When I was little, standing on his feet while he walked around the kitchen,he seemed like the tallest man alive. In the car he looks even taller because hehas to hunch over, his graying blond hair brushing the ceiling, his long legsfolding under the steering wheel.

Dad's biggest hobby is music. He canplay guitar, mandolin, bass, pennywhistle and piano with ease, and can easilypick up other instruments and sound out tunes. Lying in bed, I often fall asleepto the soft tinkling of his mandolin or the throbbing of his bass. He used toplay little songs on the pennywhistle for my sister and me at bedtime. It seemedlike magic that he could play so many instruments with such talent while Istumbled through my piano lessons (which I eventually quit).

Entering myhouse, evidence of my dad's musical talent is everywhere. The bass stands in thecorner of the computer room like a slumbering bear. The mandolin is perchedsomewhere; Dad plays it day and night, often walking around the house andannoying the heck out of my mother. She often complains that the tinny strummingdrives her crazy, but she always smiles saying it and my father knows she'sjoking.

He is often out until the early morning hours playing music withfriends, but despite his late nights, Dad always wakes early. On Saturdays he isoften up with the sun, hours before we haul our tired bodies out of our warmbeds. I often awake to the harsh whine of the coffee grinder. Dad drinks at leasttwo cups most days, and he drinks it black.

Since he's up early, heusually dozes in the late afternoon, head thrown back, snoring. Looking at him, Ialmost feel like I'm the adult and he's the tired child. That is not the casethough. Dad is always there when I need him, a sturdy tree trunk to leanon.

Comparing Dad to a tree is logical, since he loves the outdoors. Noweather bothers him, he'll be outside no matter what the conditions. Severalsummers ago when we were vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, Dad went out andwalked along the beach for miles and miles during a huge storm. The high wind,lashing rain and roaring ocean didn't stop him, and he came back drenched andhappy.

He hikes all the time, often bringing my sister and me with him,which we usually enjoy. We camp several times a year. Dad dislikes resort-typecampgrounds, opting instead for sites deep in the woods. He and his friendssometimes go camping in the middle of nowhere. He loves to be out in nature, justhim and the trees, the stars and the people he loves.

At home, thecomputer room is Dad's domain. Everything there speaks of him, from the CDs inthe stereo to the books in the bookcases. Shelves house a variety of odd items,from whistle-playing elves carved from stone to a rather frightening stuffedZippy doll to the elaborately decorated, handmade knife sheath he bought from astreet merchant in Brazil. His CD racks hold music of every genre. Van Morrisonleans against Ziggy Marley and Pavarotti, while a few inches away are TheBeatles, Dan Hicks, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan. Stacked atop those is a large pileof bluegrass albums, most of which he bought when he learned to play themandolin. Photographs of my sister and me adorn the metal filing cabinets, bothrecent ones and ones from our childhood.

When I was little, I thought Dadwas the smartest person alive, and sometimes I still do. Whenever I have aquestion he nearly always knows the answer. His knowledge is self-taught: hedidn't finish college and wasn't a straight-A student in high school. He reads alot, though. When I argue with him his wide knowledge is the trait I hate most. Ioften feel like I can never win because he's so much smarter. Most of the timethough, his wisdom makes me feel safe and secure. With Dad around, anything thathas gone wrong will be quickly righted.

Dad was always a great playmatewhen I was younger. He played countless games with my sister and me, many that weinvented. In one, we would sneak up to his bed as he pretended to sleep, runningaway with peals of laughter when he suddenly sprang up like a volcano coming tolife. He also made me lunch every day - a balanced, nutritious meal. Along with asandwich, there was always fruit and celery or carrot sticks. He never forgot toinclude dessert, usually some sort of Little Debbie snack cake. And every morningwhen we came down to breakfast there would be a drawing of suns or dogs or treeson yellow sticky notes at each place along with a little note.

Dad has thewackiest sense of humor, which he gets from my grandfather and which I inherited,at least to some degree, from him. Ever since I can remember he's been making mymother laugh with his silly jokes and goofy actions. On Halloween, he dresses upin rotten teeth, a pirate patch and a hat with streaming fake hair. He then takeshis walking stick from the woods of the West Coast, and greets the frightenedtrick-or-treaters. The kids usually don't know what to make of him and quicklytake their candy and run off. We also point out mullets when we're together, andhe even has a "Fear the Mullet" sticker, which I bought for him. Hisblue eyes twinkle when he laughs, and he has a "goofy grin," as my momdescribes it.

Dad has always been really interested in my schoolwork.Since first grade he has asked how school is going, and he really cares that Iget good grades. I sometimes get mad that he expects me to get all A's becausemany of my peers only have to get C's to make their parents happy. He says thisis because he knows my "potential." When I think about it, I guess he'sright; I should do the best I can. I think he regrets not going further in schoolhimself, and wants more for me.

In the end, that's what's most importantto Dad, that my sister and I have the best lives we possibly can. He cares aboutus, and that's why he does the things he does. He's always been there, protectingme and looking after me, and most important, loving me. I consider myself reallylucky.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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