I listened quietly in the back seat of our car as we drove the 20 hour journey from Zion National Park in Utah back home to OKC. Having spent a week in the San Francisco area for my older son’s wedding, our family had taken another week to tour some of our nation’s amazing natural wonders on the way home.
It was about 1:30am, and in spite of the fact that there were five eligible drivers in the car, only my husband and my 21-year-old son had done any driving since we’d left the hotel, around 9:00 that morning. The two were quietly bantering about ways to calculate wear and tear on tires, recent business negotiations my husband had participated in, and their upcoming annual fishing trip. Over the years my husband has spent countless hours in just this way—driving members of his family to and from family vacations, hunting and fishing trips, and skiing trips, often through the night and, until recently, usually as the sole driver. Thanks to his tireless willingness to do this, our family has been able to experience much of the natural and historic beauty of our country, and has accumulated shared memories that have bound us as a family in ways that nothing else could ever have done.
We both grew up with an understanding that this is just what fathers do; both our own fathers took their respective families on summer vacations every single year. They instilled in my husband and me a love of travel, of camping and hiking (we rarely stayed in motels), of sitting around a campfire and cooking outdoors, of car time with the family, and a love of our country’s incredible variety of natural beauty and grandeur. They fostered in us the conviction that having a family is just what adults do, and that part of being a family involves making sacrifices as parents so that you can share amazing and wonderful things with your children.
This year, as we walked the hills of San Fran, hiked through Yosemite and Zion, and stood in stunned silence in the presence of towering Sequoias, we saw many families with young children, and I was reminded of the joys and hassles of our earlier adventures. It’s not an easy thing to travel across country with several young children, keep them clean and safe while camping, and keep track of them on canyon rims and river banks. Of course, both parents work hard to make it happen.
But today, a few days after Father’s Day, I’m especially grateful for two dads who sacrificed their independence, earnings, sleep, and comfort to give their families untold treasures in the form of incredible experiences and wonderful memories. Thank you— to my father, Glenn, and my husband, Jeff—with all my heart.