Hi everyone. Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for over a week, but I had a reason for that. I got a call late last week that my dad was very sick and in the hospital, so I rushed out to California along with most of the rest of my dad’s tiny family to see him. I’m glad I did because I had a chance to spend a few days with him before he passed away on Tuesday night. As you might imagine, it wasn’t a very fun experience and blogging most definitely took a backseat to making sure my dad’s last few days were comfortable and then dealing with the immediate aftermath of his death. It might take me a little while to get back to a more regular blogging schedule as there are still a lot of things to deal with that will take a lot of time, but I’ll post when I can. But first, let me tell you about my dad and his role in making me the person I am today.
My dad was one of the biggest supporters of my interest in insects from the very beginning. I decided I wanted to be an entomologist before I was old enough to drive, so my dad took me out collecting all the time. Most summer weekends that my family didn’t spend in the mountains of Colorado collecting minerals or fishing, my dad’s two favorite hobbies, I spent with my dad collecting insects. He’d drive up to two hours to take me somewhere really cool to collect. I am 100% sure that my dad was scared of most insects, but still he took me collecting. He was awesome like that. Plus, if I saw something really cool and told him about it, he would get all excited about it. He had very little interest in insects in general, but he would get excited about them just for me.
My passion for dragonflies is a direct result of my dad’s willingness to nurture the entomological tendencies of his elder daughter. He would drive me three towns over to a big lake with a lot of dragonflies so I could collect. It was the best place to collect dragonflies because you could hide in the cattails, using them as a little odonatological duck blind. If you watched the dragonflies for a while, you could learn their flight patterns and choose the exact perfect moment to strike out with the net from your hiding place in the cattails. I had a very high success rate there, and I loved that I had FAR more dragonflies in my collection than anyone else who did collections for the 4-H entomology project. Collecting dragonflies with my dad was what made me love them. If he hadn’t done that, I’m sure I would not be the Dragonfly Woman. Heck, I might not even be an entomologist.
I decided that I wanted to do a Ph.D. shortly after deciding I wanted to be an entomologist. My dad was the reason why I thought that Ph.D. was so important. He got his master’s degree and began his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. He didn’t finish it, however, and told me many times that that was one of the greatest regrets of his life. I wanted to get a Ph.D. in part because I knew it would be important for what I wanted to do, but also because I wanted to finish my doctorate for my dad. I am currently close to finishing, and I would have liked to have been able to tell my dad that I was done. However, I am now more determined than ever to finish. My dad was so proud of everything I did and even if he’s not here to cheer me on, I am confident that he would have been ecstatic to see me finish my degree.
And finally, I owe my interest in cameras to my dad. He bought an awesome camera in the late 70′s so he could learn how to take photos of minerals. He never got all that great at it because he never really understood how it worked, but we had a great camera with a macro lens my entire life. I might never have even known it was possible to take close up photos of things without that camera and my very first macro photos were taken with it. I splurged and bought my first macro capable camera, a Nikon Coolpix 995, soon after I started grad school. That camera opened up a whole new world to me, a world that I shared with my dad by sending him shots via e mail. His enthusiasm for my photos encouraged me to improve. My dad went over a decade without using a camera much at all, but then I showed him how to use my little Nikon by taking a photo of a jumping spider on our house in Colorado when I was home for a visit. It was just a poorly focused snapshot (that’s it up at the start of the paragraph), but he reminded me of it all the time. He would say, “Remember that time you took that photo of that spider on the house? You could see EVERY HAIR on its legs. Wow!” I gave him that camera when I bought a second one and it renewed his interest in photography. I gave him the second one when I upgraded to my Canon G11. And when my second Coolpix finally died on him, my dad got a Canon G12 because he knew I loved my G11. He adored that camera. It was something that my dad and I talked about a lot, something that we enjoyed together even though he had moved to California and I didn’t get to see him as often anymore. That camera is sitting on my desk next to me at home as I write this. I intend to put it to work come spring, and I’ll think about my dad every time I do.
I miss my dad terribly. He was a really important part of my life and a person I truly enjoyed spending time with. He shaped so much of who I am. Still, I am grateful to have had such a wonderful father and even though I will miss him always, I carry a lifetime of memories. I will cherish them always.