Cambrian: Opinion

He taught me to live in mountains above Cambria. For that and many other reasons, I love my dad

Michele Oksen, and her dad, Lloyd Oksen, in the late1950s.
Michele Oksen, and her dad, Lloyd Oksen, in the late1950s.

Some daughters got lucky. I’m one of them.

I have a great dad. As an adult, I’m aware and appreciative of my dad’s many attributes. As a child, all I knew was that when Dad, Lloyd Oksen, looked at me, his eyes and expressions spoke of adoration. I felt loved. I felt safe. I felt significant.

Through childhood, up here in these Santa Lucia Mountains, the wilderness has always been an enjoyable experience for our family, in part, due to Dad’s mettle. Dad rid the cabin of all things scary such as snakes slithering under the bed, bats swooping from the rafters and nocturnal rodents bowling with acorns in the attic and walls.

With his usual easygoing demeanor, Dad made our world feel secure. Unlike his father and brothers, Dad wasn’t a hunter, but he did teach my brother, Eric, and I how to safely handle rifles, revolvers and shotguns. The only targets we ever aimed at were paper bullseyes and tin cans full of water.

Back then, it just seemed like an ordinary part of life. Having been introduced to firearms, in the way that we were, we never developed an unfortunate attraction to their destructive capabilities. As children, we weren’t allowed to watch TV programs that portrayed violence. Think “Three Stooges.”

My parents didn’t find humor in their assaults and insults. Wise beyond their years, my folks were. For recreation, after teaching college chemistry all day, Dad played racquetball. Also, he loved to sing. Dad sang in church choirs, jazz ensembles, choruses and barbershop quartets that made him an internationally known vocalist.

Late afternoons, I remember anticipating Dad’s homecoming from work. It was a daily highlight to play “kick the can” in the street until dad pedaled his bicycle around the corner and greeted me with enthusiasm. Back at the ranch, Dad was the one who volunteered to teach me how to drive “a stick” — aka, the Jeep.

My dad believed in me even while I lurched down the dirt road. Patient and unruffled, he never once complained about whiplash. Like father, like daughter. Dad and I have several similarities. For example, we both wear perpetual smiles and we whistle while we do chores.

Corny jokes, puns, irony and laughter happen around Dad. We crack each other up. He and I definitely share a sense of humor, a phenomenon that I’ve also observed in my brother Eric and his youngest daughter Devon. Their unique connection looks much like the one Dad and I have.

To me, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Today, 63 (plus) years into our father/daughter relationship, I prefer the company of my dad (and mom) to any other. Thankfully, we live within an hour of each other.

Every visit is treasured. Every moment together is precious. If I know anything at all, I’m only certain of two things. One: I love my dad with all of my heart. Two: I am a blessed daughter because beyond measure I am loved by the best man I’ve ever known.

Over the ridge and off the grid, Michele Oksen writes Mountain Musings from her cabin in the Santa Lucia Mountains. Contact her at
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