See my awesome Stanley vacuum bottle & that mug? Grab a cup of coffee, and listen carefully about the best gifts ever.
My dad. What can I say? He exemplifies many of the things I appreciate and admire in a person. He’s showed me the importance of being dependable, reliable, strong, resilient and the rewards of perseverance, dedication, and determination. I really don’t think I can live up to the example he’s given me, in many of these qualities. But, the memories I have of him showing me exactly how to do this thing called life, are gifts I have opened and reopened many times over the years.
I don’t think I’ve ever properly thanked him. But, as a parent to my own boys who happen to be entering their teenage years, I get my thanks every day I watch them tackle life’s big obstacles. I can only hope that my father has found a thank you witnessing my struggles, triumphs, and maybe glimpsing the foundation that he helped build for me. Thanks, Dad, for all those years you dedicated to us despite the doldrums, the disrespect, the challenges, the pain.
I have learned more about fatherhood in the past four years, since my husband died, than I ever realized before. Raising my boys without their father has been an intimidating challenge that has deepened my understanding of what it means to be a Dad. My father’s and my husband’s presence have given me everything I ever wanted out of this life. However short or long our time together, doesn’t matter. I’m content with it. That time will remain among my most treasured life experiences that I can only hope to bestow upon others who walk this planet. But, my husband’s absence gives me something as well.. a valuable gift that I’m honored to receive and could never repay. A clear understanding of what it means to be alive on planet earth. It’s best summed up in my husband’s own words, with a little addition made by me. “This life comes and goes like rain on a summer day. Unconditional love and freedom are the only assets worth keeping. Keep them close and you live without regret.”
In the four years since my husband’s passing, I have simultaneously used this gift wisely and squandered it away… frivolously. I realize this I can no longer exist on planet earth without correcting my mistake, because he gave his life for me to hold this precious gift. I will plead with you all to give yourself a gift: say that emboldened quote to yourself everyday and try to understand it before someone pays for you to have it with their life. Breathe it. Practice it. Be it.
This was supposed to be a light-hearted post about my adventures with my Dad, and a great gift for father’s day.. the Stanley vaccuum bottle & mug which I still think is an excellent gift. But, I can’t do anything right… that’s not who I am, it’s not the real me. However, let us end this post with its original intention.. to honor Fathers and the indestructible foundations they’ve helped us to build with their blood, sweat, years and tears – yes, tears.
Thanks, Dad, for everything.
Here we go….
My first camping trip was with my father. He was always taking us to try new things like adventuring outdoors. I’m grateful for his commitment to being the best dad he could be because I don’t think he had the best example to follow. That’s a hard thing to do. I know, because I rely on the lessons I learned through my dad all the time. He must have a supermom to make up for it. I remember that camping trip like it was yesterday. My brother and I both caught our first fish. We played around the campfire and had eggs on toast for breakfast. It sealed the deal on camping for me! As a 35 yr old woman, I’m camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking with my boys near constantly – with or without a partner’s help. I owe that to my parents and the fiery streak of independence and power they instilled in me. I’m grateful, especially for my Dad… who bore the brunt of the grunt work that made it all possible.
I’m no stranger to that work. Even on the most thrilling road trip adventure, it must be done. Making camp, breaking camp, driving for hours on end in unfamiliar territory, carrying the load for three people on the trail, catering to all the unexpected needs of two children on the road. Fortunately, I discovered an item that made things a little easier and I use it all the time, now. Are you ready for it?
A Stanley vacuum bottle full of hot coffee. It seems so simple that it’s entirely plausible that I’m just trying to sell something. But, I’m not. I’m a horrible salesperson. I’m really just letting you in on a little secret. Having that hot coffee, whenever I need it, makes things easier. My sons have poured hot coffee for me hightailin’ it down the interstate on a 2,000 mile round trip camping adventure. When I camped Shenandoah, last October, the frigid winds chilled me to the bone as I struggled to break camp alone – having told the boys to sit this one out in the car. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about coffee that frosty morning, because the stuff in my bottle was still warm enough to be called hot coffee.
I rediscovered this little secret hidden away in my memory from when I bought a Stanley bottle for my husband. He religiously headed out the door every morning at 5AM to bust his butt and earn our living. When he complained about something, it did not go unnoticed by me… even something as minor as disliking the coffee at work. I got him that bottle and he took his own hot coffee from home, everyday. Now, I’m the one who doesn’t head out without it.
I was given a brand new Stanley vaccum bottle, as well as a large Stanley vacuum mug (yeehaw!) to test out for this post. I’m very pleased with my experience using the large Stanley vacuum bottle on my recent trip to Fort Mountain State Park to investigate the backcountry campsites along the 8-mile Gahuti Trail. It’s June. But, I still had a hot cup of coffee waiting for me in my air-conditioned car for the ride home, because after day hiking in the hot sun you better bet it felt like November driving down I-75. It can keep drinks cold, too. If I ever get off the coffee, maybe I’ll fill it up with some southern sweet tea – like my son. You can grab your own Stanley Vacuum Bottle, Mug or Flask for the adventure Dad in your life on the Eddie Bauer website. (Even if he is your mom)
Do yourself a favor, don’t forget that quote. Today’s post is sponsored by Stanley Brand, but my love for their adventurer gifts is all my own!
2 thoughts on “Let me tell you about the best gifts ever.. it’s not what you think.”
Hi Candy, We have never met but I know Mike and I read your post I am sorry for you and your boys losing their father, I think you are a wonderful mother and I can see why Mike is so proud of you. I will meet you one day till then keep up the things you are teaching the boys it will stay with them a lifetime. Terry
Thanks a million, Terry! I do recognize your name from my Dad’s facebook posts. Nice to “meet” you lol