Monday, October 24, 2005

My Dad

I've been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. He died not to long ago and I've been feeling his presence . . . and the loss. You see, George Arthur Rasmussen was an incredible human being. His smile, laughter and spark could light up a room at any party or gathering. He would take a room by stealth. Not in a sneaky way but in order to not barge in or take over. He'd sidle up to his friends and engage them in a conversation about the correct way to approach wary trout, or the strategy in racing sailboats and then the conversation would turn to current events or his love of the written/spoken word. By the end of the night he would be belting out a rendition of "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City" with a merry Balantine Ale induced glint in his eye. He lit up the room.

He also lit up my heart, with love, respect and admiration. Don't get me wrong, My Dad was no saint! He could cuss with the best of them. I remember numerous times, lying on the ground under our '69 tan Volkswagen bus helping him with one of a number of repairs and hearing him cuss as he banged his knuckles when a reluctant bolt suddenly gave way under the strain of a sweat covered wrench. I learned some of my best material back then. Material I wouldn't dare to use until much later in life. There are so many trips, so many kind words, so many lessons, so many memories

Some of my favorite memories of my Dad are the time we spent in nature. My heart still yearns for those times. Canoe Trips on the Saco River in Maine where Mark , Dad and I crossed Lovell pond in high winds with Dan and Chip Stockford. Tipping over during a cold Fall trip in Walkers Rip. Camping in Greenfield New Hampshire where, while fishing, I managed to hook my eyebrow. Dad paddled determinedly across the lake, carried me uphill to the car and then the hospital. However I think my favorite times with Dad were spent Sailing in Boston Harbor.

I learned to trust myself when sailing like I never had before; harnessing the winds and learning new skills. My Dad taught me and then gave me the freedom to read charts and plot our course, trusting me to find safe passage through Boston Harbors treachorous rocks and currents. Often the middle of our journey would be George's Island. It was the site of a fort that had spread out over 30 acres. When we got there Mark and I would row our dinghy to shore and explore the secret ruins from the early 1800's. I can still smell the wet dank air amidst the cool dripping stones as we explored the cavernous tunnels under the gun emplacements. Hours later, Mark and I would row back to Dad who often stayed aboard the boat to record the sounds of gulls and buoys and his explorers as they returned with stories to tell.

I can still feel the wind in my hair and just being . . . just being with Dad as we tacked in a stiff breeze back and forth across the channel. Sometimes, when there was a fair wind, we'd sail out to the outer Brewster islands far out in the harbor's entrance to circle the Boston Harbor Lighthouse. Then, we'd return 'round Peddock's island on the home stretch for our mooring. He with his pipe belching the sweet scent of Amphora Brown, Mark soaking the sun and I with my hand on the tiller searching the foaming green sea for any tell of what lay below. Yet I think I was secretly searching for, out the side of my eye, was Dad's nod of approval as sails were trimmed and waves were quartered . . . He was quick to nod. We would smile at the sweet touch of the wind on our faces and revel in the silence of being . . . being with the wind, being with the boat, being with each other.

Lawrence Journal World Obituary
Elon College Obit

1 comment:

Dharma said...

I lost my dad last month. I can empathize with your feelings and memories of him.