Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

When Moments Reflect a Lifetime


There are some things one simply must do in life— attendance when your dad/BopBop sworn in as Speaker of the House of the South Dakota Legislature is clearly one of them.  Better yet to tell The Speaker that you cannot possibly attend — and surprise The Speaker with your arrival.

Surprise - 2007

Surprise – 2007

Eight years ago, for Dad’s first term in the Legislature, my brother, Bo, Mom, and I conspired for Bo and me to surprise Dad on the first day of Session, as he was sworn into office. Bo arrived first and told Dad that he needed to shower, went to his hotel room, and promptly slipped out the door to come pick me up at the airport. My plane was 45 minutes late and by the time we arrived back, Dad was ready to break down the door to Bo’s hotel room, convinced he had fallen and knocked his head in the shower. 

This time, we got the kids involved and Bo and family headed the 10-hours west from Wisconsin and our family (minus Wyatt in the midst of an avalanche course and Wynn who needed to be in Santa Fe) headed the 17-hours north from Santa Fe. We arrived in Pierre, South Dakota within minutes of one another at the Capitol building. We threaded our way down the hall in single file, whispering, peeking, and finally arriving to Dad’s office, where we entered en masse. One look, two looks, a triple-take later, Dad believed his eyes. 

Surprise, Mr. Speaker!

Surprise, Mr. Speaker!

Surprise, Mr. Speaker!

Lisa, Garrett, Austin, Bo, Mom, Dad, me, Noé, Luke

Cousins in the Capitol

Cousins in the Capitol

The South Dakota Capitol building is simply gorgeous. We explored the building, looking for the famous cobalt blue tiles amidst the 30,000 square feet of tiled floor. Legend has it that the Italian craftsmen who laid the tile were each given a single tile to place wherever he wished (South Dakota Magazine). Apparently, 66 tiles lie within the terrazzo floor and 55 have been found. The cousins roamed the halls found four, including some hearts.

Cobalt blue tile in capitol floor.

Heart within tile floor.

I loved the miniature replicas of each dress worn by a First Lady of South Dakota for Inauguration and the soaring stained glass ceilings above. The cousins were not nearly as taken with these and ditched me to keep looking for tiles. 

Dresses of first ladies

Stained glass ceilings.

We arrived prepared. “Oddly,” Bo said, “the Winks were the only family to show up to the Session Opening with sideline signs…” 

We love the Speaker signWith Bo, very proud of our dad.

Bo and Dawn

Dad took the Oath of Office and my heart overflowed with pride and love. Life is so very busy and so often we fly through days in a blur of all that must be done. It was a rare moment to sit and allow all that Dad has done in his life to wash through me. When your dad’s a cowboy there is never a dull moment. Of the many life lessons that I’ve taken from my parents, one of the largest has to be their steadfast determination to create goodness in life, no matter the circumstances life may toss their way. This moment in time reflected Dad’s strength-of-character, integrity, resiliency, vision, leadership, hard work, and sheer generosity and goodness of spirit throughout his lifetime. I burst with pride.

Daddy waving Speaker

After Dad took the Oath, he acknowledged each of us beautifully. I was doing okay until he started talking about Mom. He spoke of their 50-year marriage, of what an incredible mother, wife, friend, and all she’d done for our family, all while creating an international career and writing five books, with a sixth on the way. He spoke of the emails she receives from students around the world who tell of the difference she’s made in their lives. “And,” he said, “on top of all of that, she’s a GREAT dancer.” At this point, tears streamed down both of my cheeks. So much for legislative decorum…


We love the Speaker

Noé, Luke, and I slipped out right after his speech and started back to Santa Fe, via the ranch. It had been far too long since I’d been there and I savored those precious hours. As we made a final trip to the car, I looked up to see horses on the ridge above the ranch house and drank in the beauty.

Horses on ridge above ranch house.

We headed up the lane and out past Mom‘s Little Free Library. 

Wink Ranch Little Free Library

I give thanks for every single second of the journey. The photo of Dad and me below was taken on the Cascabel Ranch in 1977. I love this photo for many reasons; the sense of fun, our Wink eyes that close when we laugh, that this was clearly a break in the shade on a hot ranch day of work. What I love most about this photo is that my love for my dad shines through. 

Cascabel Ranch, 1977

With Dad, Cascabel Ranch, 1977

Some things never change.

Daddy and Dawn

Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

42 thoughts on “When Moments Reflect a Lifetime

  1. What an amazing tribute to your dad, in pictures as well as words. I found myself reading it twice and smiling at each of the photos, more the second time because I noticed more
    . You are blessed with an incredible family, both ancestors and descendants. Your post makes the rest of us stop and think about our own families and appreciate them anew. Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Tom, thanks so very much. My dad deserves an amazing tribute. I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos and details. It really was a special, special time. I am so grateful this experience lifted your appreciation of your own family. A real blessing to share.

  2. What a great story! (And love the comments from your family. Very sweet.)

    • Nina, thanks so much for taking the time to join the conversation! I’ve read many wonderful things about you from our mutual friend Jennifer Lyn King. Lovely to connect!

  3. Querida Dawn,
    Me ha conmovido mucho leer lo que escribiste acerca de tu papa y tu familia. Que suerte tienen los habitantes de South Dakota!
    Un abrazo,
    Ana Maria

    • Querida Ana Maria, mil gracias por todo lo que expresas aquí y para tomar el tiempo de conectar y escribir. Que placer seguir nuestra amistad y raíces por todos éstos años. Es una bendición para mi. Abarazotes, Dawn

  4. Dawn, thank you for this generous sharing and beautiful rendering of your dad’s special day. The beaming faces of your family says it all. I’m sure Wynn and Wyatt were heart-broken to have missed being there, but they will treasure your words and pictures, as do all of us! Cheers to the Wink Family!

    • Dear Liz, it was such a special, special time – truly one of those moments of a lifetime. And, oh did we have fun, too! Knowing Mom and Dad, I’m sure you can visualize all. Thanks so very much for taking the time to write! See you in Abiqiui tomorrow for Conversations Among Literary Friends tomorrow! XOXO Dawn

  5. I loved it! Without a doubt you have within the many characteristics of your parents, and to just point to one of them, the determination to make goodness in life. Thank you for let’s us-your friends- enter in the beauty of your family’s love.Patricia

  6. Beautiful story – beautiful family. Wish i were a Wink!! Hugs, Sandy

  7. I’m sitting in a little lodge on top of Mt. Hood,reading about your life moments, tears running down my cheeks. When your written words bring out emotions, of love for parents, love for beautiful experiences, and appreciation for it all in mid-life, says a lot about your ability to write. Thank you for this. You are so gifted. I’m also thankful for your parents who included me on occasion at their ranch in Benson. We went horseback riding, floated on the river, celebrated Father’s Day, and several dinners throughout my year in Tucson. Thanks again for sharing your life experiences through your blog. Kathrine

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Dear Kathrine, oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to write and to paint the portrait of where you are, so I can visualize and share in this moment. That makes two of us wit tears running down our cheeks. What a gift this is and I am so grateful to share across these many years and miles with you. Thank you so very much for continuing our shared journey. Such a blessing that I treasure. Dawn

  8. Beautiful;

    in the wink of the eye,

    what difference does one dewdrop make?

    ’tis the one which beaks the surface tension

    from which the mere human bucket, a dam of family clearly overflows,

    connecting the fullness of love to the river, rhythm and circle of life.

    • Dear Tanja, oh what a gift in this poem. From my heart, thank you and thank you. I’ve written this poem in my journal and treasure. I will return to this poem again and again for inspiration and connection. Your beautiful spirit shines through here, dear Tanja. Deepest gratitude and hugs, Dawn

  9. This is such a moving family story and a wonderful tribute to your dad and how much he means to your entire family. Blessings on all of you.

    • Dear Jane, thanks so very much for sharing in the celebration and taking the time to connect. This moment really did reflect a lifetime and was such a blessing to experience. Hugs to you, Dawn

  10. You must be so very proud! What a wonderful celebration for your family!!

  11. Ah, such a heart warming story! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Dear Dawn, what a beautiful story. I do not know your Dad but I know and your mom and I could not be more happy for all of you for this amazing moment. I am so blessed to call you my friend! All my love to you, Mom and dad, who I will love to get to know one day.

    • Querida Sandra, oh, do I miss you and think about Doña Olivia! Sending love across the miles and cannot wait to see you at TESOL. La bendición de nuestra amistad es mía. Mil, mil gracias por escribir, amiga, y yo espero que algún día sí vas a conocer a mi papí. Todo mi amor y cariño, Dawn

  13. Oh my goodness!!! How wonderful that you all were there. I think that I am really lucky to know and love all of you!

  14. Dear Dawn, How proud BopBop must have been to have his good looking family present at such a big moment of his life; I’m sure he beamed in front of the House. And the covert arrival of all you guys to surprise him like that added so much more to his already big day! What a story, thank you for sharing and for Dewdrops. Love, Dan

    • Dear Dan, it was such a special, special time for all of us. We can still hardly believe that we pulled off the covert arrival. How none of us managed to slip is nothing short of amazing! Thanks so much for sharing in the experience of all! Love, Dawn

  15. What a wonderful way to deal with insomnia! The writer never has to toss and turn; she can write.

  16. Beautifully written, Dawn. Love, love your mom and dad. And you!

  17. Dawn – you beautifully captured the moments of the bried 36 hours in Pierre. Thank you! I too have tears all over again. Love you!

    • Lisa, oh, I’m so glad! I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about how to write this, got up at 3:00 am to dive in and then just hoped that it worked! Of course, tears on this end, as well. Glad we’re sharing them! Love you!!

  18. I love this! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful family moment.

  19. Dawn, Joan, congratulations! What a wonderful man you have created! And how proud HE must be of you! Hugs to all of you, Tove and Robert, just back from a long walk in the snow

    • dearest Tove! Love knowing that you and Robert are just back from a long walk in the snow. Thank you, thank you for all here and for sharing the walk with us. Much love, Dawn

  20. Loved the story, Dawn. You’ve a lot to cherish and it’s apparent that you do. Congrats to your pops, Mr. Speaker. 😉

    • Hey dear Betsy. I do and I do. Thanks so very much for reading and writing to connect. And let me just say, that is one smoking’ photo of you and your motorcycle! XO

  21. That makes two of us, Mom. Happy candlelight tears. xoxox

  22. Ok, so now I am in tears again. Thanks for so beautifully capturing the precious moments together. xoxoxo

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