With the announcement of the addition to my Memphis family, and the surreal events of today with my son I got to thinking about Fathers. All of us have crossed paths with different kinds of Fathers, Dads, or Old Man whatever’s your pleasure.
I can remember, in my growing up years, my running buddy’s Dads. There were four of us that ran hard together. There was my best friend’s dad. He was a legendary golfer locally. He worked for the phone company forever. I’m not sure he didn’t help Alexander Graham Bell in his shop!! He was one of the funniest people ever. We would go over there and sit around talking to him and he would cuss around us and treat us like we were grown up. Until we did something stupid, which was quiet regular, and then he would lower the boom on us. Then there was the other Dad’s; One, a Yellowstone drinking man that could fix or build anything. He worked at a shop or manufacturing somewhere I think maybe a truck line or something. We built 2 houses over 3 summers at the lake for this dad and he worked us to death. He was always working if not he was always drinking that damn Yellowstone. And it bares mentioning here he was riddled with arthritis in his knees and feet. I never once heard the man complain about it either. And for the record, yes we got into the Yellowstone one night while they were at the lake and we all paid of it for a couple of days. I do not drink bourbon to this day because of that faithful Saturday evening! Then there was the guy whose Dad died while he was very young. He lived with his Mom who was special to say the least. Then there was me. I have written here numerous times about my Dad. He was a drill instructor for the 101st Air Borne. He was a man of few words. He was a disciplinarian of the highest regard. He, like the other Dads, loved his wife and wasn’t afraid to show it even in front of us kids.
As I was trying to get my day started after the session with my son today I wondered out loud where I when wrong. What was the lesson I missed from my Father. Did I miss it from one of the other Dads I had grown up around? Why am I having this much trouble getting a bright young man to see reason? I tore through my memory banks trying to remember a time when I was like my son. My Father would never have put up, for one second, with the behavior I was faced with today. Why do I allow it when he didn’t? I looked back and thought of all of the times we messed up. And believe me there were numerous, and we always took responsibility for our actions and took whatever happened like men. We never hid behind this life hates me and I need a break BS I heard today. Where is the disconnect?
Do we parent like our parents? The answer would be no. If I did I would be in jail tonight for the beating of my son! Are we a blend of the father experienced as we grew up? I’m not sure. Then the twenty four thousand dollar question, what makes a good father? Of course that depends on to whom you speak. If you talk to my son I feel quite certain that my name would not be first on the list. If you talk to me I’m not sure mine would be either. Of my running buddies 2 have kids and they seem to have turned out OK. Now we still see each other and they have their moments as well. So we are back to the original question, what makes a good dad? My son tells me it is not the same as when I was a kid. I’ll give him that. Have times changed so drastically that we need to retool the way we parent? What’s wrong with asking for results? What’s wrong with holding children responsible for their actions? What’s wrong with asking your children to be a part of the family? One thing for sure the questions are far beyond my mental capabilities. Times like these are when I miss my Dad the most. What would he say? Would he remember me as something that might even resemble my son? Surely that’s impossible!
With the new addition to the Memphis family we welcome another new Father to our ranks. Here is a young man I have been impressed with since the first night I met him. I have had the pleasure of watching this young man graduate college with the first international MBA granted from his school. This young man put together the program and then executed it to completion. He now is an important team member of an international division of a fortune 500 company. I happen to know some people who work at the same company in other capacities who know him and they always speak highly of him. He is well on his way to becoming a huge success.
Now let’s turn to this young man’s Father. Like my friends above, his Father died when he was a very young man. He was raised by his Mother and other family. He is a very gentle spirit. A more loving and caring person I would challenge you to find. He has worked hard to ensure his family was taken care of and that his wife was able to remain home with the kids. He is a huge part of all of his children’s lives. He takes care or at the very least shows true concern for all who cross his path. He always wants to make sure all around him are happy and fulfilled. What a great example for our new father, to be reared by this great man. As the excitement was fading a bit after the big reveal the other night I slipped up next to him and told him he was going to be a great dad. He looked me in the eyes; his still had the remnants of the joyous tears of celebrating the good news and told me, if he was half the father he had he would be a huge success. WOW, what a thing to say. Is there a higher compliment in the world than your son wanting to be the dad you were to them?
So we still have our conundrum what is a good dad? It needs to be said here that I know there are fathers who abandon their kids and responsibilities. There is nothing lower than a man who will not take care of what is his. I do not put myself or anyone mentioned in this text in that group. I am talking about the endless task of being a dad. If you are not there you can’t be a dad.
Well this is much longer than I had planned. And we have not solved a thing. I guess each of us just do the best we can do. I only wish I had a bar or measuring stick to show me how I’m doing. When you compare yourself to the ones you see around you it might scare you when you do not measure up. I guess I will just do the best I can and when I get to see my father again in the end I can only hope I did ok. Strange 24 years after his death I am still trying to make sure he is proud of me.
My wife and friends tell me I do fine, I’m not too sure. My son is not in jail; he has a steady job, pays his bills. I guess maybe there are worst dads out there.
Better go sit in my Dad’s chair maybe that will help.
The Blessed Man