I posted the following entry on Facebook yesterday (Father's Day 2016):
The other day, I shared and described a picture of me standing next to a giant pit where a nuclear reactor once stood. What I didn't go into, and will go into now, was an experience I had while taking the plant tour prior to that picture being taken.
I suspect most of us have had the experience of suddenly and unexpectedly remembering something long forgotten. It’s a remarkable experience, isn’t it? Maybe you see or hear or feel or even smell something, and all of a sudden you remember. On special occasions, it might even feel like you've traveled back in time and re-occupied a former version of yourself. Under normal circumstances, when I look back on my past, I tend to do so through the lens of my present self. It's hard for me to re-live my younger points of view, and it definitely isn't something I can do at will. So when it happens, when I can go back and be a younger version of myself for a moment, I try to hold on to it like you would try to hold on to a wonderful dream that fades when you wake up.
It would take pages of text to fully describe the site tour and my memories, but it came down to this: The sites, sounds, smells, and people I experienced on that tour made me a kid again, filled with love, pride, and awe for my Dad,
When I was a kid, Dad worked for General Electric in an old WWII-era building in Johnson City that had a similar sweeping, functional, aesthetically frozen-in-time design as the Xcel plant I was touring. As the guide took us along, I was a kid again, visiting my Dad at work, feeling overwhelmed and awestruck by the huge spaces; the soaring ceilings; the noises and sights of the strange machines and computers; the maze of a route I was being guided along; and the friendly, smart faces that greeted me wherever I went.
There was one space, more hangar than room, where an enormous capped machine whirred away, playing its huge part in generating electricity for thousands and thousands of people. Our tour guide said the name of the company that built the machine, but I couldn’t quite make it out since I was wearing earplugs to muffle the din. I looked for myself and noticed a familiar logo: General Electric.
I was a kid again, full of pride for my Dad and the company he worked for, and I choked back tears as an image appeared in my mind of Dad’s blue “GE is Me” t-shirt--the one that was so familiar and comforting that it still feels like home just to think of it--as my group walked into the control room. I looked around the room with its brown metal mainframe, the dozens of monitors with mysterious symbols and designs on their displays, and I realized that while I hadn't been there before, I knew it all the same. Another guide came over to talk to us, and he could have been one of my Dad’s co-workers and friends.
Such an experience was a gift, and it is a gift to be able to keep it fresh and share it with you all. The greatest gift of all, though, is the gift of love, pride, and admiration I felt for my Dad and continue to feel for my Dad -- who, not so incidentally, was, is, and always will be my hero. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.