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  • I have long been under the belief that my dad and I are too much alike to get along.

    I have never questioned his love or his support for me, but getting along is an entirely different matter.

    My sister was our dad's "right hand man." She could do what he loved: Be with him and watch him while he underwent his many home projects, getting up every now and then and fetching exactly the right tool. She didn't ask a lot of questions, tell endless stories, or give advice. She just watched, with what seemed to me was excrutiating patience. I, on the other hand, daydreamed and dilly-dallied. I could not sit still, hold something steadily, or find the right tool on time. When I was 33 years old my dad and I opened our summer home together. When I ran and found the correct pipe wrench at age 33 he exclaimed he had no idea I was ever paying attention enough to know what a pipe wrench was. At 33 I beamed like a six-year-old at my ability to finally get it right.

    My dad and I are both stubborn and sure our individual way to do almost anything is the only way. We both get easily frustrated and have little tantrums when things don't go exactly as we think they should. We both think whatever we're doing is the most important thing. So we would inevitably bicker, stomp, and yell.

    Enter my mother. My mother was my dad's rib poker and she was my open arms.

    When my dad and I would come to one of our epic clashes about the correct way to do something, she would step in and give him a verbal or physical nudge. She would find some way of saying, "Have patience. Don't be so hard on her." Maybe...maybe she would even say, "She's different than her sister" trying to allow for me to wander and be not-so-helpful. She wasn't obvious with these nudges; she didn't overtly pick sides or put one of us down. She just poked a tiny bit, and I knew I could rely on those taps. When my dad and I would clash I would sometimes raise my voice to bring her to the rescue. My mother was my champion. I marvel now at the things she listened to me ramble on about and the ways she encouraged me. I don't know how she did it but she made me feel amazing -- funny, creative, smart, unstoppable.

    You don't see my mom in this photo.

    She's the one who supplied the snowperson's hat and scarf when I ran into the house looking for them. I didn't have time to dawdle, you know. I left my dad to get a snowperson's outfit and I'd better get back, quickly. Fully comprehending the situation she helped me locate the items and sent. me back outside. My mom's the one who sat inside -- probably extremely pleased -- as my dad and I actually peacefully completed a frivolous project together.

    My mom took this photo, not likely because she was the least bit impressed with the snow sculpture but because he and I were together, finishing something, and having fun. Perhaps she even knew how loving and kind he was being. In my memory earlier that day we had gone shopping with my older sister and she picked out a cassette tape-recorder for her birthday.

    You don't see my sister -- who had just turned 13 -- in this photograph either. I imagine she was in her room, recording what we would have thought were innovative things with her new Panasonic Tape Recorder. She was too old and cool for snowmen. Perhaps my mom knew as she held up the instant camera to capture this moment, that I had been sulking. I had been feeling sorry for myself that we went shopping and I didn't get anything.

    My dad knew I was being an unreasonable baby. But instead of pointing this out he suggested this project which led me running to get boots, snowpants, and mittens to participate. My dad is wearing his gym teaching -- excuse me, physical education teaching -- shoes and driving gloves.

    You cannot tell by looking at this photo how much I appreciate that aspect of my father now. In the moment I only have the nine-year-old's wanna-grow-up-but-still-want-to-play expression.

    Now that I am his age in the photo with my own kids that age I can fully take this scene in.

    When you look at this photo of this sunny, Spring-snow nostalgic day, I'd like you to see

    what required of me

    a second glance.

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