I was three, maybe four, when my Dad started teaching me about the planets and the sun.
He would sit me down on the floor, pick out a volume of our Encyclopedia Britannica that weighed about as much as I did- the same ones that my mom had paid for one at a time out of her paycheck every month until we had the whole set, aardvark to zulu warrior– and flip the page open to solar system. I can still remember that old bookshelf, and how it would get just a little bit fuller every month as it made its forward progression to Z.
An alphabetized portal out into this great big world, far beyond our little trailer home in Fenwick, West Virginia.
He would have me sit like that for hours, going over and over it again until I got it. Was it the sun that went around the Earth….or was that the moon? And what is the next closest planet to us again? Good, now name the rest of them in descending order of distance from the sun. I’ll be honest with you, I would have much rather been playing She-Ra, Princess of Power. I’m pretty sure her planet had three moons.
But what my Dad knew, was that the following year I would be starting school at our little three-room elementary school….where the kindergarten and first grade were combined, and that would still only make up about a dozen students. He had gone there he was little too.
And he just wanted to make sure that my start in life, would never be the reason I couldn’t write whatever ending I wanted to.
So….he taught. And he tested. And he challenged me to never stop learning.
This past weekend as we shot a wedding in Miami, we brought my dad down to see Florida for the very first time. And then the next day, we met up with him at the Kennedy Space Center. A place that he had always wanted to go. As we walked around among the rockets, he fired off questions to Justin & I one by one and filled in the gaps in our answers. Like our own walking Encyclopedia Britannica.
Still always teaching. Still always testing. Still always pushing us forward.
And still challenging me to write whatever story I want to, one chapter at a time.