As promised, here is my essay, written for my dad, Don Stepps. Love you Dad, Dad-daddy-o!
At my grade school Halloween costume party, my dad was the guy weaving through the crowd of Catholic school kids and nuns shouting, “Adrienne!” Not only was he dressed as Rocky in his gray zipper hoodie, boxing gloves and fake shiner under his left eye – he was Rocky Balboa. Dad always played the part, from his silly or scary folktales to the pranks he pulled with costumes or props.
I adopted Dad’s sense of adventure and often joined in on the fun: in Tomahawk, WI where we vacationed with aunts, uncles and cousins, Dad and I finished up a day of fishing with a little “surprise.” I knocked on my Uncle’s cottage door and when they opened, Dad threw a very wet, very alive fresh-caught fish onto their kitchen floor then slammed the door closed. Off we ran leaving a wake of shrieks and screams as that poor fish flip-flopped on their floor!
Flash forward 20 years and here I am, Little Miss Big Eyes (as Dad calls me), mom of two boys who adore their Grandpa. Even at age 61, Dad still plays pranks, in the form of “death missions” with my boys. Sneaking into the kitchen to “steal” more candy for their movie night or sending my boys to smuggle the toaster and waffles out to the pop-up camper for a midnight snack, all without getting busted by Grandma, is the essence of a death mission.
Adventurous, risk-taker, spontaneous and creative are all great traits for a dad or grandpa of young kids. But Dad’s knack for fun has also been my inspiration as an adult. As I take risks in my writing, be creative in my teaching and find the adventure in Mommyhood. I only hope that the stories I tell are as memorable as Dad’s.
BIO: Mary Jo Campbell, married mom of two, is an award-winning published freelance author who has been inspiring young writers to reach their potential through writing workshops, classes and speaking engagements. She teaches for FRoG (Friends of the Gifted & Talented) through their Super Saturday Programs, hosts on-going monthly young writers’ workshops and was the key note speaker for the Chick Chat event sponsored by HGNA (Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence). Mary Jo is also an Executive Board Member and the Secretary for Capitol City Young Writers.