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Happy Father's Day, Dad
Unlike the other hubs I write, I really only care if one person reads this one - my Dad.
It's amazing how much more I come to respect and admire you as I get older. There are times I haven't, times we didn't talk, weren't all that close, but now, even though we live so far apart, I feel closer to you than just about any time in my life.
I keep thinking you get to be a better dad as the years go by - maybe that's true. Maybe I'm just starting to give you the credit you deserve. Maybe I'm getting to be a better son and that's why I think it - I hope so - but maybe not. Maybe it's because I'm a dad now myself and I feel like there's not much in this world that could be more important that having a dad you love and respect - and maybe because I know now how hard it is to be a good dad.
But whatever the reason, you didn't just start out as my dad this year. It started back in 1962. My earliest memories are like these: you bringing a color, console TV home so we could have the best place to watch the first Super Bowl, fielding ground balls outside our house, learning to ride a Mini-Enduro, going to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play baseball, rivalries between our favorite teams (I liked Chicago in baseball, you liked them in football), going to lunch for an awesome grilled burger at The Huddle, watching and your friends pour salt in your beer (always Budweiser), watching the card games of the grown ups, going to Washington DC, and my Mom dressing my brothers and me in Campbell Soup outfits (scary!), doing arithmetic and math problems in our heads, playing cards, hitting a golf ball at Rea Park with an ancient club just the right size for a seven year old, the Fourth of July, etc., etc., etc.
Those happy times had an unhappy end :(, but life went on. It's so strange that for the last several months I've been temporarily living in the neighborhood where I grew up and been by our old house so many times. The tenants who lived in our old house moved out a few months ago, and the owner started a remodeling project. The front door was open one day, and I yelled in and asked if I could walk around. The contractor said, "Sure", and I did.
It was sad what I saw. The house was in shambles - I don't even want to describe what it looked like. There were a few things still there though I remembered - the wrought iron railing, the double-stack oven, and a few bits of memorabilia, including some magazines from the 1960's - can't say for sure, but I think they were yours :-).
It all just brings back so many memories. Then, a few days ago, I was riding my bike, and I saw a neighbor who lived two doors down from us. She's 82 now, but still going strong. She has the nicest yard in the neighborhood. We talked about her kids, my brothers, my parents - the dogs they used to have, the fame her very shy daughter attained as an adult (on the Weather Channel), the neighbors we both knew - it was odd, but really good. I felt connected to the past.
With you, I feel connected to the past, and the present - and the future. I now have a life with a 15 year old boy in the house, who reminds me in many ways - of me. It makes me understand what you went through! And I understand why you still love me in spite of myself, I think too.
But now is now. You have always tried so hard to make up for things we missed in other ways, and you have - many times over. I just want you to know how much I love you, respect you and plot my own life based on being your son, and you being my family. I hope my own kids some day will come to feel about me the way I feel about you now - you're the best dad I could have had - I'm glad you're mine!!!
Happy Father's Day - sorry I can't be there with you :(