I spent yesterday, Father's Day, with my dad in his favorite place. It's the first Father's Day I spent with him in years -- decades, really. And of course the last one I'll spend with him, or with his physical form anyway.
I went up a day early and camped out in the old "family camping spot" along the bank of Curecanti Creek. It was like a mental tour of my childhood -- I remember playing with boats with my mom in that pool -- I remember hours spent around the fire with my parents, grandparents, various cousins and aunts and uncles -- I remember telling my wife I loved her for the first time in that sacred place.
My dad spent a lot more time there than I did. In the years before we relegated him to a nursing home, he would go up there for weeks if not months at a time. I never really thought a lot about what he did while he was there, but in my solitude on Saturday I began to wonder.
When we went there as a family, we did a lot of fishing -- at least my grandfather, my dad, and I did -- and hiked and gathered firewood and did all the other camping stuff.
So what does a grown man who doesn't fish or hike anymore do when he's camping in the woods for weeks at a time?
Maybe a clue lies in my own ongoing mindfulness practice; beyond meditation, bringing aware presence to everything that I do.
I think he just sat.
I can picture him sitting in his folding lawn chair, back straight and head up, hands on the knees of his blue jeans, glasses gleaming in morning light. I see him noticing all that is around him and feeling totally connected to it -- the mountains, the trees, the animals, the water -- totally present.
Ripples arise in the humblest puddle.