Youth Optimist of the Year 1965

This photo used to hang in a back hallway at my grandma’s house. Most of the time I would walk right by it, but occasionally — usually when I was alone — I would stop to stare at it.

My dad is 19 years old in this picture, and it was taken shortly after he received what was the culmination of a string of awards he received during that time: the Youth Optimist of Year for 1965.

When I look at it today, I think about how much my dad achieved after that. When I looked at it then, I noticed only one thing: the way my grandma proudly looked at her son.

For years my dad kept his awards in boxes in our garage. In fact, his first Emmy Award was damaged because of it.

I often wondered why he never displayed them, but then again, humility was imperative and ubiquitous in our family. My grandparents never talked about awards, and they certainly didn’t boast about achievements.

While you’ll never hear it from him, I know the awards my dad’s most proud of: his Emmys, and another called the Ohtli Award, which honors people who have dedicated their lives and career to “blazing a trail” for younger generations.

As much as I was reminded of my dad’s achievements when I saw this photo today, there is still one thing that I like most about this image: the way my grandma proudly looked at her son … my dad.

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