The Most Creative Man I Know: My Dad

Grandpa and Jackson enjoying puddles

By Angela Noel

June 15, 2017

My father isn’t a “guy’s guy.” He’s not a hunter, sports-fanatic, beer-drinker, or back-slapper. But, he can grill things and fix other things. He can build decks, waterfalls, and walls. When my dad wanted to go price a boat or a washing machine, he let me tag along. He called me his “lucky charm” because we always seemed to find a good deal whenever we went shopping together. He told me he was 99.4% perfect. I believed him.

Hawaii condo circa 1984
This is the condo we rented for our Hawaii trip. I’m seated on the left, my sister next to me on the right, and our family friend. Don’t ask me why we’re watching TV. I guess even in 1984, screen time was a thing.

One of the most creative people I know, he invents games. He dreamed up a card game for us one family vacation in Hawaii when I was in the third-grade. We used decks of cards to create a path through the rented condo, even up and down the stairs. Math was involved. He’d draw a card and we’d advance whatever number of steps he showed on the card. I don’t remember the rest of the rules or how to win. But I remember how fun it was, and how much we wanted to play again. Vacations always did bring out my dad’s best ideas.

For example, he also devised a scheme to teach us how to manage money. On vacations to Seattle or New England, he’d allot my sister, Dawn, and I a certain amount of money for food each day. If we didn’t spend it all, we got to keep it. This worked until he realized the two of us hoarded our money instead of buying food. He’d raised two savers.

But, he didn’t reserve his inventiveness for family trips alone.

Building a pool in the backyard
We built a pool in our backyard in 1986 or ’87. I’m twelve or thirteen. It’s two years after the Hawaii trip, but I’m still wearing the t-shirt I bought there. My dad, sweatband and all, is hard at work.

He used to give us “think-ups” at the dinner table. He’d think of a question and we would have to think up the answer. I loved the game. I looked forward to

dinner–even if I knew I’d have to choke down lima beans–because I wondered what my dad had up his sleeve.

He’s retired now, but the creative schemes continue. We’ll be traveling together soon on a family cruise to Alaska. Nine months ago, my dad devised the “Fun Facts About Alaska Game” (FFAA for short) intended to improve our knowledge and capitalize on the best part of vacations: the anticipation. The game required we pick prospector names and complete a series of challenges to earn “Prospector Bucks.” Every night, while we eat multi-course meals in the cruise ship dining room, we’ll bet our “grubstakes” on nightly quizzes. This game ups the ante on the think-ups of my youth. Fabulous prizes await the winners of FFAA–even one I hear that may be difficult to get through security at the airport. (Which makes me both curious and a little nervous.)

When my husband’s family heard about the Alaska game, many of them said some version of, “Aha! Now we know where you get it!” If I had to guess, I’d say two things are immediately obvious about me: I’m insatiably curious and I’m always trying to figure out and experience the world in new ways.

I am my father’s daughter.

And what a lucky girl I am.


Your turn: What do you love about your dad (stepdad, father-figure fellow)? 


Author: Angela Noel

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find your own.

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