"You Serious, Clark?"

Today just so happens to be Lee Wilson's birthday.  He is 60.  And in his honor, I would like to chat about him for a bit. Lee Wilson (also called  "dad", "pawpaw", and "Clark" by me, my siblings, and our spouses) was born last in a family of seven children- he was the baby of the family, and was treated as such by his sisters (his brothers weren't quite as enamoured by his mere presence). He looked just like Ralphie when he was a kid.

 

I believe his birth order and his white-blonde hair contributed heavily in forming him into the man that he is today: Funny, witty, eager to please, able to see both sides, crazy about family, and really, really cute.  Everyone says so. Growing up with him as a dad was EXACTLY like living with Clark Griswald-he was fun-loving, easily excited, and extremely devoted to his family. If you have seen any of the Vacation movies, then you have lived a day of my childhood.  My dad still tells the story about the time his car wouldn't shift into drive.  He needed to get to work, and discovered that he had an option: his car WOULD shift into reverse, so of course, that was the method of delivery he chose.  As he backed up to the stop lights, he would just look at the driver next to him, smile, and continue on, in reverse.  And that spirit of ingenuity and adventure continued on throughout his life. A few years back, Dad decided to take my sister and me with him to an anniversary banquet being hosted by one of his past clients.  He no longer worked with these particular clients, but they had a special affection for Dad, and wanted him to be there with them to celebrate. It was held in Seattle, Washington, and it was FREE, so we hopped at the chance to get away for a bit.  As we sat at the table of businessmen, one of the men asked my sister if we were "businesswomen", and as I was about to say "no", my sis sat straight up, polished her "Romy and Michelle" businesswoman character, and said, "Why, yes- we both are." -she didn't claim to invent the "post-it" though...not that time anyway. It was the first time in my life that I realized that we were, indeed entrepreneurs.  It was a weird moment. Anywho, as the presenters of the ceremony praised various leaders in the company, they called out my dad.  They praised him for his work ethic, for his support of them throughout the years, and for his friendship.  In that moment, I got to see my dad in another role-as a business leader.  And the image of him that they got to experience was congruous with the character of the man that I grew up with.  I was so proud of him that night and honored that I got to be raised by him. His integrity and passion for people have infiltrated every facet of his life.  As Clark has grown and matured, he has mellowed a bit-he's less inclined to drive a car in reverse, more likely to stay in a hotel rather than camp, certainly more comfortable with a stay-cation rather than packing us up, Aunt Edna and all, to go on an adventure.  But on certain nights, when the air is crisp, the chili is on the stove, the fire is lit, and we are all gathered around the house, I watch him standing near the hearth, gazing into the warmth of the flames, and I can see that glimmer of light in his eye,  just knowing that he is visualizing what our next family vacation would be...and just how perfect it will be! "It's good, it's good, it's good!" Happy Birthday, Clark.  You taught me everything I know about exterior illumination.  So, what Hollywood family did you grow up with?  The Cleavers? The Munsters?  Do share...

Keri Lehmann
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