My Dad and I rode the chairlift at Tweetsie, our legs dangling in the air. Dad clung to the bar that separated us from the plummet below and did his best to restrain me as I kicked my feet and leaned over exclaiming, “Look, we can almost touch their heads with our feet!” I stared in fascination at the people below us.
We grew up familiar with the lens of a camera, groaning good-naturedly as he set the timer and rushed to join in the picture. At birthday parties, he told my friends to say “physicist” rather than “cheese.” A definite giggle producer. Try it with a few teeth missing!
When I was twelve, Dad and I spent time on the golf course—one of the rare times that I got him to myself. I don’t recall anything significant about those outings, just being thrilled to be considered worthy enough to play with Dad.
In the third grade, I developed a fascination with snowflakes. Dad checked out a book on snowflakes from the university library and sat beside me while I struggled to read the thick volume, praising me as I sounded out difficult words. That same year, he let all four of us take a physics test he gave his college students. I got a 36, a better score than some of his students. Years later, I took his physics class and discovered his talent for explaining difficult concepts. He gave tests with questions like how far off of the ground Superman might be when he saves Lois Lane (whom Lex Luther just shoved off of a ten story building). How cool is that?
Outside of his family, one of Dad’s biggest joys probably was trains. I remember trudging after him, unable to grasp his excitement until the promised train arrived—usually a steam engine. It seems like we waited forever, staring down the tracks, thinking the train might never arrive. It always did, and yes, Dad took lots of pictures.
Most people knew my Dad as a physics professor who became department head and then college dean, but to me, he was Daddy. He’s been gone for five years, now, and I miss him every day, but I’m thankful that he shared so much with us. I just wish he was here today so I could tell him Happy Father’s Day.