Another Father’s Day has come and gone. It’s been 6 years since dad passed, but he is very much a part of my life and who I am. I still seek his counsel, and find answers to life’s challenges as he did – in moments of deep thought just before sleep.
He taught me many things, mostly by example. He fixed things. He didn’t waste time. He had a “right or wrong” philosophy. But mostly, he was there for me when I needed him. And he still is.
It wasn’t an easy relationship; there were pressures and expectations that came with being the first son. When his expectations were unmet, he openly displayed and verbalized his disappointment. I needed his approval, and find that I still conduct myself in ways I think would earn it. Some of his friends say I look just like him; others say I AM just like him. I guess I am slowly becoming him; a predestination to which I am uncomfortably resigned. Hopefully I will do him justice, and in whatever ways possible – be a little bit better.
God knows we butted heads! I certainly carry his stubbornness gene, and argument characterized most of my teen years. My best moment came in an exasperated response to his goading me into admission that his “negative reinforcement” tactics were, in fact, effective. “You have taught me everything I need to know to be a great father” I said. “What you did well, I will do. And the things you did poorly, I will never do”. He got the point, and in the latter years of his life, he came to respect my abilities as a father.
Of course I have made many mistakes, but by the time you think you’ve perfected your technique, they’ve grown up and you’ve lost control. Hopefully the kids know I’ve done the best I could. And if they strive to be even better at it than I, well, good luck to them. I’ve done my job. And in that respect I suppose my dad did his.
I received a homemade card from the kids this year, along with an electric screwdriver. “You can never have too many tools”, my dad would say. And written in the card…
“Thank you for all your love and support, and for always being there when we need you”.
And I always will be. Trust me on that.