A Father’s Gift

CHIPPER&BasketThe squirrel in this picture is named “Chipper.” Chipper is a special squirrel because this little critter spoke to me when I was a boy.

I stumbled upon Chipper one day when I was poking around my father’s art and photography room in the basement. I found a stack of published materials advertising a church camp–newsletters, programs, bulletins–and Chipper was everywhere on those pages. I was in awe. My Dad drew that! And I was captivated. I want to do that!

CHIPPER-Orange2I’m telling you, Chipper spoke to me that day. That squirrel awakened a desire within me.Β  I couldn’t have articulated it then, but I know now that my heart was answering back to Chipper: I want to be able to draw characters that can speak to people just like you are talking to me.

CHIPPER&PennantIn an earlier life, my father had a career in art and display, but by the time I came along he was a carpenter by trade. From time to time he would create his talking artwork for church projects or to commemorate special occasions for personal friends. Every time he did, his creations spoke to me, and I was entranced with fascination.

I think my father would have liked to have been a professional cartoonist. He used to tell us kids the story of when he took a cartooning class. On the first day, the art instructor walked around the room to assess the abilities of CHIPPER-Indianhis new students. When he saw what my father could do, he asked him if he was a professional just brushing up on his skills. I could tell that meant a lot to my Dad.

He had more than a talent. He had a gift. And I know it gave him joy to use it. But as the years passed, he used that gift less and less frequently until, one day, he put it away for good.

I don’t know why he put that gift away. I don’t know what happened.

CHIPPER-Musicale1You might be thinking to yourself, Why don’t you just ask him about it?Β  Well, my father and I don’t talk. And even when we do, we don’t, if you know what I mean.

But, to this day, Chipper still talks to me. And one day recently I thought about all the other people my Dad’s cartoon characters could have spoken to if he hadn’t put that gift–and, I suspect, that dream–away. And I cried.

But in some way, maybe I do understand. CHIPPER-Musicale2Life can shatter us inside. As broken people with broken dreams, we can respond to life by burying our desires and putting our gifts away.

I almost put my gift away, too. But I’m sharing my gift now, and I also wanted to share his gift with you. You see, there are two things I know that I’m not sure my father realizes.

He has a real gift.

He gave that gift to me.

Thanks, Dad.

(All images used without the expressed permission of Bud Hamlin.)

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8 thoughts on “A Father’s Gift

  1. My dad was talented like that also. Not with drawing, but he could build anything. He built toy boxes for both my kids, lanterns for family members, and several planters and more for me. He made old things look new, which is what my husband and I (and now, our kids) do today. We renovate older homes, a gift I know we refined partly because of what we learned from Dad. It’s refreshing to look at what he passed along to our family. Thanks for sharing your story that reminded me of my own.

    • Well, Kim, it seems we may have a few more things in common. Thanks for sharing what your father passed on to you. Home renovation is hard work, but it so satisfying to see the transformation and gratifying to reap a reward for your labors. I sure wish I had learned a few more things about carpentry from my father.

  2. I’m so glad that you didn’t put your gift away and so sad that your dad did. As someone who struggles to even draw a stick man well, I enjoy and appreciate the gift that you both have. I love your cartoons Dave and think your dad’s work is also awesome. Thank you so much for sharing them πŸ™‚
    I guess there are so many reasons why we are tempted to give up on our dreams and de-value our gifts. Maybe a harsh word from someone close to us, despite the multitude of positive comments from others, or maybe we just get so busy with the “important” things of life that we don’t make the time for what truly brings us joy. And before we know it, even we forget the joy it used to bring.
    I know my world is a better place after finding your blog – both the words you write and the pictures you draw speak volumes. Keep up the great work Dave. Deep down I’m sure your Dad is proud of you and I know for sure that your Father is πŸ™‚

    • Wow. I sincerely appreciate your positive feedback on the drawings and the your wonderful words of encouragement to me personally. And I thank you for your insightful reflections on giving up on dreams and devaluing gifts. The harsh word from someone close makes me think of my own kids and the importance of giving them encouragement and guarding my own tongue against speaking harmful words. And you’re right. What we see as our responsibilities can crowd out those things we desire to do. Graham, I am glad you found this blog. My world is a better place because of your communication from down under πŸ™‚ Thanks, Graham!

  3. Thanks for recognizing and using your God-given talents, Dave!

    My mother and father divorced when I was nine years ofd, I never had any contact with him for 49 years. When my mother died in 1990, and his second wife the same year, we got back together for 4 1/2 years until his death in 2001.

    Mr. Bob

    • Oh my goodness, Mr. Bob. I had no idea that you experienced separation from your father for a half-century. That’s tough for a nine-year old. That’s tough for a child at any age. I am glad you enjoyed a brief reunion before your Dad passed away. And thank you for your fatherly encouragement, Mr. Bob. It means a lot. I’m so glad that when we came out to Colorado we happened to roll into the driveway next to yours!

  4. Wow, Dave. What a post. I’m sorry you and your father don’t speak. I can only imagine how difficult that is at times. I’m so glad you share the gift he passed down to you. Your drawings SPEAK. Loudly. Filled with gracious messages. I hope your Father’s Day is a wonderful celebration.

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