Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Father

I can count on half a hand the number of people who have known me since I entered this world with a whimper and an unexpected breath; my mother, and my father. I guess I knew my mother a little longer since I lived in her warm womb for nine months. But that was more of an amphibious existence than anything else, a forgettable if essential part of my evolution. So from day one, and the conceiving days preceding that first day, there were two personages that loved me and knew me. I cannot tell you if my first memory was of my mother, my father, or both of them. But what I do know is that I am unaware of a world without them. But today I want to talk about my Father. 

The relationship between father and son is an odd and beautiful phenomenon. They don't really have the same background because when the journey of father and son commences only one has a past, a life to draw from. And from that starting point the son can only draw life from what he is taught and what he sees, until his background and past start to form.

I can't remember a time past or present where I didn't associate my own father with the likes of heroes. I'm sure most fathers at some point or many points feel inadequate, unprepared and ill-equipped to raise a son in this ever changing sphere of chaos and whimsy we call life. But regardless of error or folly, I saw my Dad as an undisputed hero. I look back at my early years and see nothing but joy and learning. My Dad managed to teach me things without me feeling like I was being lectured to or harangued for misconduct. 

Memories are fresh flowers on gloomy winter days. And I have been blessed with what seems like an endless aqueduct of awesome memories between father and son. I remember when I was ten years old and we both thought shaving our heads was fashionable and cool. I didn't care if kids made fun of me at school. I thought they were the idiots that weren't as fresh as me and my dad. I remember playing toss for hours in freshly cut grass, laughing at things girls would never understand. For some reason I have vivid memories of my dad removing large and painful splinters from my fingers. And it isn't the pain I remember, but the intimacy, the care. I remember unknowingly mimicking my father's mannerisms to the amusement of my mother. I remember conversations that were too hard to have, but we had them anyway. I remember crying in front of him and not feeling like any less of a man, cause he cried with me. I remember him teaching me what words meant that I used incorrectly. I remember sparks of competition between us as we played Pickle Ball or cards. 

The memories don't stop, but more importantly neither does the friendship. As you grow up I guess most people need their parents less and less. I know that is painful for parents, but the truth is it is painful for me too. But there is a necessary estrangement. You move out to college, you take yourself to the doctor's, and you make your own mistakes. But you yearn for the days when your burdens were their burdens. It was a simpler time. But thus is the process of growing up, an inevitable portion of life. But for the lucky, the relationship only grows with time. New experiences are shared, the harsh realities of adulthood are better understood, and finally the son has a substantial past to work with. Having this background, this chunk of life lived puts the father/son relationship on a whole new plateau. Maybe we don't live together anymore, and maybe we don't even talk everyday anymore, but knowing someone for 27 years is so much better than knowing someone for 10 or 15 years. You think you know everything about someone, but everyone is constantly evolving in opinions, personalities, and capacities. 

I can't wait till the day my Dad meets the girl I will marry, and I tear up at the thought of him holding my first son. Sometimes guys suck at the whole feelings thing. But I love you Dad. You are the reason I am the person I am, and I am grateful for you everyday. And I appreciate the ridiculous good looks that you gave me. Happy birthday Pop, you old bag of bones.

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”  ~Umberto Eco