It came and went quietly, and I took just a few seconds to acknowledge it, but last Thursday the 23rd was the 12th anniversary of my dad's passing. Of course, I have a lot on my mind these days, so that might be easy to excuse. And with my mom's passing in February (coincidentally on the 23rd) I may have still felt some loss from that to dwell on my dad's passing.
But today, in the stillness of the house, highlighted by the sound of the waterfall out back and the doves cooing, I thought of my dad - the man with the hat.
I've shared before of my dad's love of traveling, particularly on the open road. I believe when he was younger he did a lot of camping, and enjoyed that very much. As a kid, we tried that one time, and my mom didn't like it. So, my dad compromised, and future family trips were done in either rented cab-over campers, or motorhomes. And with each and every trip, there was my dad - the man with the hat.
Dad loved his cowboy hat. I'm not sure if he went the full route and got a Stetson. But his hat or hats on our trips were always the same: light grey colored, and always turned up on the sides. This was the hat that went with us on our first family trip touring the "Grand Loop" of Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon in 1969. It went on our subsequent trips to Yellowstone and smaller trips to Joshua Tree or Death Valley. Yes. This was dad's "travel hat". And I believe, for my brothers and I, it was just as much a part of the trip as mom's almost daily dinner of hot dogs and baked beans, or my oldest brother, Donald, and my mom playing Canasta, or my other brother Jim and I fighting for the "shotgun" seat.
By the time dad and I were taking our own trips in the 80's and 90's, the cowboy hat was gone, replaced by baseball caps. The man in the hat was still there, though, sharing with me that love of the open road, of seeing, of absorbing, and becoming part of what you see.
I miss that man with the hat. Love you, dad.