That's me in the foreground. My dad is right behind me. In the distance behind him, you can see a shadow of our cottage. My dad's dad built that cottage with his hands. He built it on weekends during the early 1950s and my dad spend most of his childhood summers there. From one window, they could look across the lagoon and the channel and see the home of my great grandparents on Marquette Island. The other window faces the bay that my dad is guiding the rowboat across in this photograph.
So the place refers to a history and to memories that extend beyond my existence and anchor me in a narrative of love and peace, of return and generosity, of exploration and beauty. The photograph evokes all of these feelings, but it also includes far more memories. My dad has been literally and figuratively behind me for my whole life. He has encouraged my curiosity and my ambition. He has helped me navigate difficult waters. He has shared visions and stories that orient me to the world in a particular (and particularly generous) way.
I still take my children out on Mackinac Bay in this same rowboat. I know in a different way what it feels like to be a father. Its not an easy thing to do or to be, but having a father like this behind you? Propelling you into your own journey? Has made it a more manageable task.
Thank you, dad. Happy 70th Birthday. I often celebrate the lives of the people that I love in small intentional ways on their birthday. The word "celebrate" is inadequate for the depth of love and gratefulness and appreciation that I feel for you.