Sometimes, when I'm out in the wilderness, I imagine that my father will come walking over the next hill up ahead. The hole he left will never be filled, but the pain is gone, and replaced by sadness. My father was nowhere near perfect, and his actions taught me a lot about how not to live. He taught me that when things get hard, you don't run away from the ones who love you the most. He taught me to fight for my relationship, because it takes work, and it's not always easy, but that's what makes it worth it.
But my dad taught me a lot about living, too. He showed me that you should always take the time to laugh, appreciate nature, and see the wonder in it. He had a connection with every animal he came in contact with. "His" leopard, Nyota, recognized him every time he tracked her and photographed her. When she gave birth to her cubs, she led my dad right to them. They had a bond and a trust because he took the time to put effort into getting it. I think a lot of his ability to communicate with animals lives on inside of me. I'm grateful I got to watch and learn from him. He also taught me that following my dreams was the only option, and to never settle for less than what you want. He showed me that I can be many things before my life comes to and end, as he certainly was. In his lifetime, my father was an artist in advertising, wrote jokes for Lambchop's Playalong, he was a damn good blues singer, a writer, artist, business owner, Professor of Archaeology, a renound archaeologist (Dr. John Cavallo), Internationally published wildlife photographer, friend, father, and all around genius (no, really). He was the most creative and passionate person I've ever known. And he believed in me so much. I will never forget his words: "One day, Pookie, your little light is going to shine." I'll miss you forever, Dad - my real-life Indiana Jones. ❤️
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