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How the Relationship with my Dad Shapes Me

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I stood there, nose squished against the thick glass wall unmoved by my eager hands. After a “quick” hour and a half drive to the Baltimore Zoo, a secret trip my dad and I made more often than I would like to admit, I had finally reached the esteemed polar bear exhibit. What started as a primitive second grade research project on “an animal that lives in the cold,” had now turned into a lifelong admiration and curiosity for these white, northern bears. Every birthday now starts off the same way, with a new stuffed animal polar bear added to my “diverse” collection which currently takes up one-third of my room.

My seventh grade birthday present, however, was something new, unusual, and bit unconventional for the time. My father bought me a packet of audio tapes on the lives, history, and Arctic geography of polar bears. From then on, every morning during the car ride to school we shamelessly tuned into the deeply narrated tapes as my brain filled to the brim with facts about these fascinating tundra animals. Polar bears became our point of connection. I began to secretly wish for a tad more traffic to prolong our car rides together. The daily race to greet my dad as he came through the door after work always held promise of at least one article on polar bears either of us had discovered that day. As the middle school years drew to a close, my love for polar bears did not fade.

This June, as I scanned through my suggested YouTube selections, I came across possibly the most impressive video ever created, titled, “The Only Man in the World Who Can Swim with a Polar Bear.” Yes, my initial reaction was jealousy, but that feeling slowly morphed into a newfound motivation to learn how one man became such great friends with this wild animal. After extensive research, I found the man on LinkedIn. His name is Mark Dumas, and he, too, loves polar bears. Shortly thereafter, my dad and I drafted our first email to ask if we could meet his pet polar bear, Agee. It was a success. Three months later, my dad and I made our dream journey as we drove across the Canadian border to meet Agee and her owner. The small stuffed animals that clutter my room certainly did not prepare me for the regal, magnificent bear I met that day in September.

After three hours of hanging out with Agee and crew, I bid farewell, and my dad and I made our way back home. Through our mutual love for one animal, my dad has become one of my best friends. His intellect, kindness, and appreciation for life shapes who I am as a person today. Even as the tapes run out and the trip becomes a memory from the past, I know the relationship with my dad will always be as strong as that Baltimore Zoo glass.

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How the Relationship with my Dad Shapes Me. (2018, May 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from
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