Among my first memories is being a toddler playing outside our house in San Carlos, CA, and watching my dad chase our dog, Muffet, down the street after she'd gotten loose.
We did the usual suburban family things. Dinner parties, camping trips, BBQs. I watched Monday Night Football with my dad on a little black & white TV set in his den. We did the YMCA Indian Guides and Cub Scouts together. We went sailing on Lake Vasona in San Jose. When our family built a house in the Aptos hills, he let me help nail the outside stairs and deck planks, and never took me to task for getting it wrong - just showed me the proper way to do it.
My dad ran along behind my first bike, only letting go when I was completely under my own power, letting me fall upon occasion (because that's how we learn), and always there to help me up and try again. He went to my soccer games, my basketball games and the occasional field trip. I used to ride on his shoulders a lot. When he was the age I am now, he was 6'4", like me - it was the best view a boy could want.
I was 11 when my dad left his marriage. The next year was painful, as we rarely saw him. I tried hard to fill that void in my house, becoming my mom's chief of staff as she went to work to support three children on a shoestring budget. It was hard to do without my dad that year, but we talked about it in depth later, and I understand why it would have been hard to be in contact - not to say it's okay, because it most certainly wasn't - but I understand.
When he re-entered my life, it was as if he'd never left. We just picked up where we left off. We got NAUI certified together and went diving off Monterey. He took me to rated R movies, much to my mother's chagrin. When he married the woman who would become our stepmom, my brother and sister and I were all part of the ceremony. When we moved to Palo Alto in 1984, not only was it the right move for a 16 year old boy who was stagnating in Santa Cruz, but it facilitated meeting a certain hazel-eyed actress in drama class.
My dad and I didn't always get along. There were periods of angst and strife and family drama, but when I came into my twenties, we did a lot of sorting it through. We stood united against the generations-old dysfunction and abuse in our family. He owned his own computer consulting company and retired early to follow his dream of living aboard a sailboat and cruising different parts of the world. He was an example of success on the most personal level, an example I've always tried to follow.
He was a loving dad. He was a loving grandfather. He would have turned 62 today.
I miss you, pop. Fair winds.