July 10, 2012

Of Small Starts & Big Beginnings

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.

  1. Lara

    Love this.

  2. Melissa

    What a moving post, Mary.

  3. Susan Evans

    That’s awesome! Bless your dad.

  4. Jackie

    What a lovely story about your wonderful dad! He must be very proud of you!

  5. Emilia Jane

    Aww this is so cool! And what a huge blessing to have a father like this :-)

  6. Tricia

    So sweet, I can only imagine how proud your dad must be of you! (We had those Britannica’s too… I’m pretty sure my parents still do!)

  7. Faye Bernoulli

    Aaaaand you have me crying again!! Your dad is awesome– has he seen the NASA documentaries (When We Left Earth) on Netflix? We were obsessed with it!

  8. Ciiku

    This is the sweetest thing ever!

  9. Lauren Wakefield

    I LOVE that picture of you and your dad. So cute. And I love this story.

  10. Lydia

    So sweet, Mary! He sounds like an amazing father!

  11. Kathy Bess Thomas

    Both the narrative and the photo brings tears to my eyes. You are most blessed. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jil


  13. Christa

    I love when you post about your Dad & childhood

  14. KTUN

    You are amazing. Thanks for making my day with this blog post!

  15. Shannon Rosan

    This just melted my heart :)

  16. Caroline

    Beautiful post!

  17. Stephanie Stewart

    Awww! So awesome that your Dad got to travel with you! Such a sweet post!

  18. Jennelle

    I swear, Mary! I always tear up on the posts about your dad. And I’m at work. People here are gonna think I’m a nut more than they already do. Daggonit. You are such a gifted writer! Please don’t stop!

  19. joan solitario

    love your dad posts :D

  20. Amy Clifton

    Oh I just love your recollections of growing up. And pretty much everything else that you write. Beautiful memories!

  21. Ed Mero

    Like the layout and the idea.
    Really Super!

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