One of the smarter things I did when I hit mid-life (I did plenty of dumb ones) was make a bucket list. Someday before I die I will travel to Scotland and see the land of the Dickson plaid. Someday, God willing and more self-discipline in play, I will live debt free. And someday I will stand on the rim of Cedar Breaks with my father, take in that stirring view, and then see a play at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah.
There are some other things on the list, like see Paris and learn Spanish, but, for now, I want to celebrate the checking off of one of the things on my list.
Papa and I stood at Cedar Breaks. We felt the powerful breezes. We turned our cheeks to the red spirals stretching out endlessly in the valley below. We talked to the park rangers and lingered as long as we could before the heat of the day pushed us back to our car. I remember saying to myself, and possibly out loud, more than 20 years ago when I first stood at that rim, “I wish Papa could see this,” but I never believed he ever would.
It was so far to travel.
It was so far.
Until it wasn’t.
At the age of 83, my father made the long journey from Bloomsburg to Salt Lake City, where I now make my home. From there, we drove the 250 miles south to Cedar City and realized one of the dreams of my life. I impose upon you now by sharing this personal story because my father turns 84 this week, and when I thought of the occasion of his birthday, I knew there was nothing I could give him, no tie or book or smart phone, that would convey the love I feel.
Nothing except a love letter.
My father loves this newspaper. He has since I was a child growing up in Berwick and later Bloomsburg. I can remember him reading it when he’d get home from work while my mother was making dinner. I remember him reading it on Sunday mornings while Meet the Press was on. I remember his pointing out interesting articles to my mother and sometimes, when I got older, even to me. He would sometimes submit information he believed of sufficient interest to the paper, usually on the subject of table tennis, his greatest love other than his children.
I am quite sure he would not consider his birthday to be a topic of sufficient interest to warrant an article in the paper. Normally a birthday would not be. But for David C. Dickson, Jr., one of the oldest practicing attorneys in the state of Pennsylvania, and certainly in Columbia County, I was just audacious enough to think a few of you would feel the tenderness toward him that I feel. Some of you might know him from his 50 years of law practice. Some from his half a century of promoting and playing the sport of table tennis, or his recent years of teaching at Central Columbia Middle School. Some might know him as the tall, thin, white-haired gentleman who has a warm “Hello” for everyone he meets as he walks the streets of downtown Berwick running errands for the law firm that bears his name. Some may know him from his support of the annual Run for the Diamonds event. When I attend that event with him, I still marvel at the greetings he receives near the starting line, “Hello Dave!” “Hey Dave.” “Good to see you, Dave.”
I am the youngest of my father’s three children, a graduate of Central Columbia High School Class of 1981. I am a parent myself now, mother of two sons and step-mother of two daughters and a son. I know the challenge of being a parent, let alone an inspired one. And on this occasion of my father’s 84th birthday, I just want to tell him, in front of his neighbors and friends, that if there is anything good in my life, it is because of his love and example.
I love you, Papa.