This is one of my favorite pictures of him. It is my sister Susie, my sister Julie, and me with him at Julie's wedding many years ago now. He looks really happy in this picture, I think, and sort of boyish. There is something about the way he is standing --as if we pulled him into the picture and he wasn't quite sure what to do -- that I find incomparably charming. This is the way I like to remember him, sort of pleasantly surprised with the world.
He was a complicated, charismatic person. People have told me all my life that they've never met anyone like my dad, and I have never been able to successfully describe him, or what it was like to be his daughter. It wasn't easy. When I remember him, I try to put together all the little things I thought were sweet and nice. He wanted me to open an herb store, like one we'd seen on vacation once in Galena, Illinois. He thought I should marry a farmer and have a simple life. He pronounced the words "salad" and "talent" and "balance" in a really weird way I could never imitate. We both liked those programs at the end of the year that showed all the highlights of things that had happened. He liked Martha Stewart and Cheryl Ladd. He had one speed (slow). He bought my cat Violet gourmet cat food, though he claimed to not like cats. He liked vikings. When he met Andy, who he adored, he said, "I like Andy. He's irrepressible, and he's a lot taller than that little black cloud that follows you around." He wouldn't let me go to one of the colleges he visited with me because the graffiti in the bathroom was too stupid. He loved the farmer's market in Missoula, and couldn't believe how beautiful all the peeled onions looked together. His favorite album was the Eagles' Desperado. He loved Northern Exposure and was very sad when Joel left. He always liked to stop and get a Cinnabon at the mall. He wanted me to be a writer. He made us take walks in the woods all the time. He never once complained about the clothes we wore, or said we couldn't sleep over somewhere or have someone else sleep over. He called our friends our "little friends." He liked to say "Good enough for rock 'n' roll," "Right shoulder up!" (so that I would self-correct the slight curve in my spine), and "Stay alert, stay alive." The last two of these would enrage me when I heard them. He made excellent chili. His favorite cereal was Sugar Corn Pops. He always had a boat but couldn't swim, and wore a life-jacket on shore. He was afraid to fly. He always wanted to travel to Africa but never did. He had very green eyes. He loved wolves.
I miss you Dad. I hope you're okay up there. I wish you were down here.