Central Oregon photographer: Happy Father’s Day

This is an interesting Father’s Day for me. It seems like the first time that my son hasn’t been home for it. He’s been off at college for 3 years now but I think he’s been finished and at home by Father’s Day the previous years. He’s decided to stay in Eugene over the summer and work rather than come home. Which is good for him I think. But I’ll miss him this summer. In addition to being father and son we’re also pretty good friends and I’m both proud and grateful for that. Luckily he is coming with us on our trip to Jackson, Wyoming so that should be fun.

Our relationship got me thinking about my relationship with my dad. My dad died a month after my son was born almost 22 years ago. I think they would have been great friends too. I don’t know if I ever felt like I was my dad’s friend but we spent some good times alone together hunting and exploring the outdoors. My dad wasn’t the kind of dad who struck fear in your heart. He always felt approachable and rational. I think his dad was just the opposite so he tried hard to not be someone to fear. Not that there weren’t times, as a kid., that he reached for his belt to get my attention. But he never used the belt. I think it was the respect for him that made us realize it was time to cool it if he had to resort to “the belt”.

My dad had a wonderful dry sense of humor. My friends were often frightened of him or left wondering if he liked them after first meeting him. But he just liked to mess with them. And my dad had a gift for story telling. I wish I had a record of all of his stories. He would entertain the hunting party each night with stories of past hunts, colorful characters whom he’s worked with at the mill, or just jokes he’d heard. It didn’t occur to me at the time how skilled he was at it. It just seemed so natural. I guess I didn’t realize it until years later when I tried to retell the stories and even some of my own that it is actually a gift to be able to weave those yarns. A gift, sadly, I didn’t receive.

My dad had a passion for the outdoors. This passion manifested itself in his photography and hunting and fishing. It was his passion for photography that inspired me to do what I’m doing today. His passion for being outside provided us with something to share. It was during hunting season that I came to know my father the best. This is where he was happiest and felt the most free. I remember his utter glee my first year when I bagged my first buck. I think he was more excited than I was. He was like a kid on Christmas morning. I was 13 I think and he was so excited and proud he was offering me celebratory beers and cigarettes. Apparently that kill had made me a man in his eyes. I declined both offers by the way.

My dad died 6 months after retirement. He and my mom had worked and saved their whole lives to buy a motorhome and spend their retirement on the road. They never got to take the RV any farther than 30 miles away. That had a major impact on my life. I realized that you have to live for now because tomorrow truly may never come.

For a while the pendulum of my life swung too far in that direction and I never seemed to think beyond the moment. And that’s really not healthy either. Like most things in life its about balance and moderation. So now I keep one eye on the future and one eye on opportunities in the present. That philosophy has led to wonderful places. I’ve been to Mexico and Honduras. I have my own businesses. I’ve formed a great partnership with Studio 3.

Its not about playing it safe. Life is too short to play it safe all the time. You have to be smart about it but don’t miss opportunities to try something new. Don’t be afraid to fail. My dad had the opportunity many years ago to buy a piece of property with a friend. It was some acreage on the south end of Bend. He needed to invest $4000 in it. He didn’t want to risk his money on this piece of land so opted out. A huge Fred Meyer, a Taco Time, an apartment complex and several other businesses reside on that land today.

So my dad wasn’t an investment genius. And he died before he could realize his dream of traveling the country. But you know what? He had a great life. And he was a great dad. And I miss him.

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