What qualifies a person to write another man’s story? For a life is not a life unless it is fully experienced and lived, and the writer can hardly capture the essence, let alone tell a full story.But the one who has done the living is a tired soul and his hands are feeble and in pain, and his heart has been in pieces and it’s difficult for him to sort out. And so it is that the writer must be the one to document whatever he/she can. For once a life goes, so do their libraries of stories.Two years ago, I felt the calling to get to know my dad when I walked in a Hallmark store and found a book called, “My Father’s Legacy.” In the book are “get to know you questions” about family history, not just dates, but celebrations and dreams and memories. There were so many questions I didn’t know the answer to for my family, even basic questions of family tree information. You see, I have always wanted to get to know dad, but his life and his feelings have always been vaulted with at least a hundred locks and a secret code. As I examined the book, I realized there was so much more I didn’t know, and the questions seemed simple enough. So I thought to myself, “Let’s give this a try.”I introduced the book to my dad and told him I’d like to document family history and some traditions for posterity. “Hey Dad, maybe I could ask you some questions?” Dad said, “I think that’d be all right.” When I would visit, I would ask a few questions and then I’d randomly call him and ask him some more. However, if the question became too personal, dad would quickly close up and withdraw and suddenly had to go “feed the critters” or eat, even if he just called me!The next step on our journey, my dad then began to accept that if the question was in the book, then it was legal, and I could ask it. It would make me giggle because he would look in the book to check if the question really was there. What this phase allowed me to do was gain his trust. He would feed me tidbits to see what I would do with the information. Because my intentions were honorable and how I handled his information was honorable, he began to trust me. From there, we could go a little deeper. There were times I would call, and he’d have to get through the roughness of his day, (Alzheimer’s has people living in fear and worry), and then I would get tidbits of information. Other days after finishing his stories he was just done and hung up. It was disappointing, but I knew it was part of the journey. Through patience and diligence and ears bleeding getting through the toughness of dealing with someone who is closed and stubborn and sadly going through mind games of his own, we began to forge a new relationship. He began to look forward to my calls and sometimes called me. The darkness was revealed less and less and the pep in his spirit was back.This week I got to visit him in Texas. I came prepared with a list of questions in various areas, because I never know what he will be open to answer. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of the prepared questions answered, but fortunate for me, I was open to the experience and whatever he had to offer me. Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised more than once.We went on an adventure to visit his hometown of Georgewest. He got lost, and I didn’t catch it because I had my head down taking notes…But the best part? GETTING LOST WAS A BEAUTIFUL THING. Because we were in the car seven lovely hours without phones or computers or people clamoring for his attention, we just got to laugh and be ourselves. Sometimes we didn’t talk at all. And we can’t forget the Dairy Queen! We both enjoyed our most favorite treat, icecream just like little kids!Daddy woke up the next day ready to take on the world. He even talked about feeling inspired to write. He said he had a dream that I didn’t just “come to Texas,” that I was “sent to Texas” to inspire him. I got a brilliant idea to create a feast for Father’s day. I used a sheet as a table cloth, because daddy didn’t one, and I picked flowers from his garden and put them in his favorite mason jars. It takes very little. And twenty minutes before people came over, daddy gave me the most real, the most honest that I have ever seen him. He was unafraid, and gave me the advice of a lifetime in regards to alcoholism…but I will save that for another time because it’s a most wonderful story all by itself.The trip wasn’t all peaches and roses, but it was time I treasured and got to know my daddy better. The focus was on being present and noticing. I will never know how much longer I have with him, so I embrace what I have. Smile your silly smile dad and enjoy.