Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day. x's 2.

Most people--or a lot of them at least--are celebrating one special man in their life today. I'm lucky. I get to celebrate two. =)

Dad #1: Curt Whittaker
"A father is a man who has snapshots in his wallet where his money used to be." --Anonymous

This is my Dad. He's the guy who gave me half of his chromosomes. He's made a lot of changes in life, and has finally landed in a place he's yearned to be for years...a third world country. He works for the State Department, at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. And he's awesome.

He gave me the theatre bug. He's the one towards the front, with the crown and the goofy unibrow. =) Both of my parents gave me that bug, I guess, but I'm so grateful for Dad's experience, knowledge, and support of the arts. He's an excellent director and teacher. I remember in high school, always going to him for acting coaching, or help with a monologue, or in understanding how to read a line. He's got this uncanny understanding of human nature that makes him brilliant when it comes to acting. Although I think he's always worried about me letting things like grades and work fall by the wayside in favor of the theatre, he's always been supportive, or at least understanding of my love for the theatre.

He's never grown out of being goofy. And I don't think he ever will. This is us last August, during a family weekend trip to El Salvador. He manages to balance being responsible and being purposely ridiculous fairly well.

He's caring. He's so caring that sometimes it paralyzes him. That's how caring he is. He's got this depth of love for humanity and the world that I've yet to see equaled by anyone I've met, except for maybe my sister Beckah. This is him in Honduras, on an outing to a pottery demonstration. He just wanted to hold the baby, and she contentedly and trustingly fell asleep in his arms. He's going to make a wonderful grandpa someday.


There are a lot, but this is one that sticks out to me. I remember being really young, before my parents divorced, living in the Parkside Place apartment. We had that bulletin board for a while on the wall next to the front door, in that little space between the front door and the closet door (where, on birthdays, we would pin the nose on the clown or the fork in Ariel's hand, etc.). I don't remember if it was for any particular occasion, but Dad read me and Beckah a poem and then posted it on that board. It was something to the effect of "girls can do anything" and listed all these careers and sports and things that girls could do. I remember thinking two things: A) that I was lucky to be a girl and have all the options of both boys AND girls, which was double the options that boys had. Faulty logic, but hey I was like 6. B) That I didn't really have any need to hear that, because I knew that I could anything...Mom and Dad and Sesame Street had taught me that already. But apparently Dad reading us that poem had a profound effect on me because it's one of my most vivid memories of childhood. I'm so grateful that not only do I live in an age when the expectations of women are more open to interpretation, but that my parents, and particularly my father, raised me to know from a very young age that I really could be and do anything I wanted to.

Dad #2: Ray Christensen
"Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers." -- David M. Gottesman

This is my step-dad. He became my official step-dad a few years ago, but was already filling those shoes for several years before that. He's (quite clearly) a theatre junkie too, which is only one of the reasons I love him.

Because, I mean, come on. Just LOOK at this picture. This is him as a rock star sometime in the 80's. Can you get much cooler? But seriously, one of the reasons he's awesome is because of his straight-up level of awesome. He's not the "Scarsdale Galahad, breakfast-eating, Brooks-brothers type." He's got a slightly rebellious side, an intellectual questioning of the system side. I love that about him. It's something we have in common.

He's an insanely talented musician/composer/arranger. "Death of the Hired Man"? INCREDIBLE. When it comes to music, he's equal portions brain and heart...he's got the knowledge to make music good and the heart to make it wonderful. I'm in awe of him sometimes. And brag about him all the time.

He dreams big. This is his musical that he's currently working on. Yeah, his musical. That's right. My stepdad wrote a musical. Book, music and lyrics by Ray Christensen. I'm learning that it's a long, difficult process to write and produce a musical. And he's giving it his all. That takes a kind of courage that I have yet to develop, and have yet to see in many. His musical's fantastic, by the way. But what I'm even more impressed with is his dedication and hard work and courage. From him, I'm learning that making a dream come true is 10% the dream, and 90% work and guts.


I've tried to think of just one I wanted to share, but I simply can't. There are too many. So I'll have to narrow it down to "memories of laughter." Most of my fondest memories with Ray are times of silliness. He has got a great sense of humor. Seeing/hearing him laugh is so fulfilling and contagious. I remember Saturday mornings when Beckah and I would be visiting, when he and Mom and Beckah and I would watch some cheesy old horror film and laugh about how wonderfully ridiculous it was. Or we'd laugh about something the cat did. Or about some absurd hallmark card that Mom found somewhere. His laughter is always something that I carry with me.

I feel so blessed to have these two incredible role models and friends for fathers. Today, I celebrate them and their quirks and qualities, and want them to know that I am who I am today because of them. Ray and Dad, I love you both very much! Thank you for all you are and all you do!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Liz. How wonderful and sweet. This, I am sure, is very meaningful to your Dad and to Ray. Thanks for this!