Take it All In

We learn countless invaluable lessons from our parents. And that learning never ends, even in their passing. Recently, I lost my father. The loss feels big and heavy. So big, that if I give it too much thought, I fear that my sadness may swallow me whole. Yet as we move out of winter and into spring, I too, am slowly coming back to life.

Instead of focusing on what I have lost, I’m choosing to look at all that I have gained from being my father’s daughter. He was an intelligent man with a heart of gold. Happiest when working in his garden or sharing good conversation around a summer night’s fire. Upon reflection these last few weeks, I’ve realized that many of the things that I like about myself are reflections of him: his care for the underdog, his kindness to strangers and his ability to be a friend to anyone. Most importantly, he had a lifelong love affair with the natural world, one which he instilled in both my brother and me. To honour his life is to continue the legacy, a profound love, respect and connection with nature.

My father, Robert Prest, taught me to take time to immerse myself in nature from a young age. To close my eyes and listen to the waves, the breath of the sea. To walk through the woods and run my hands along the burly gnarls of the trees. To trace roots with my feet and take note of each tree’s connection to another. To pay attention to how big and vast the world is, and to remember our role as its protectors. His values have become my own. Values of environmental stewardship which undoubtedly led me to the community of Fernie. A community drawn to build a life on the doorstep of wilderness.

Looking back, the fondest memories of my childhood are summers spent with my dad and brother, camping along the West coast. Running wild and free in an oversized t-shirt and no shoes. Going weeks without a proper shower and beginning to form sea-salted-dreadlocks. Building bonfires so big that even if it began to rain, we never got wet! Somehow, my father made the impossible … possible.

On his death bed, my father, the storyteller, wanted to leave us with one last word of advice. He asked us to “take time each day to look at the sky.” Even if you’re rushing to work, take a minute to look up and remember just how small we really are. To remember that we are a part of nature; it is not here for us to abuse for the environment’s health reflects our own. We are here to love. To sit in awe as we gaze at the sky in gratitude for what is and for what was.

When my father was told that he had days to live, that he had lung cancer and that it was terminal, I’ll never forget his reaction of calm. He never complained because he always accepted the ebb and flow of life with ease. He understood the bigger picture and the natural cycles of the world. He was never afraid.

I understand that this month’s Fernie Fix is our Green issue. I also understand that my article typically shares triumphant stories of local mamas and how amazing they are at instilling a love and care of the outdoors within their children. But, given my personal experience as of late, I could not think of anything more poignant that I needed to share. That my father was a believer in green principles and that he planted the seed to my own passion for the environment. I also wanted to share how much I loved him and how much he inspired me. How much he will continue to inspire me as I raise my own children.

Each morning, I hope that he can inspire you too. Inspire you to take a moment to look up at the sky, to take it all in, to let awe fill you with energy for another glorious day of being alive.

Happy Sky-gazing!

Are you also a Fernie Mountain Mama? Please feel free to share your outdoor adventures, family stories and photos by writing to ferniemountainmamas@gmail.com, or hashtag #ferniemountainmamas to encourage more parents to take their little ones outdoors and share in all the fun that Fernie has to offer.