Thinking about my Dad
Being self-employed has its advantages which, fortunately, usually outweigh the disadvantages. One huge advantage is that I’ve been able to help out my Dad as he’s needed to go to the doctor, have surgeries and so on over the last few years. Today any possible downsides were far outweighed by my being free to take my 84 year old Dad to a followup-from-surgery doctor appointment and it’s made me realize how lucky I am to have him and to be free to help.
This is a guy who has become increasingly frail over the last few years and I’m always struck by how he doesn’t seem that way when he’s in his own house at his kitchen table. There he is in command of his environment and it’s as though nothing has changed. Decades of being a smoker have taken its toll on his lungs coupled with all the other stuff that goes on with a body after seven decades plus on earth, but the way time beats down on people as they age is only in evidence when we’re out of his house. He usually can take himself anywhere but recent needs have made having help from my sisters and I a necessity. I’m glad I can be there for him when he needs us (my three sisters are there for him too) and that I was able to take him today and at other times in the past.
Like in that photo from 1959, I remember being that little guy looking up to this giant of a man with hairy arms who was always physically and morally strong, someone who taught me the imperative of marital fidelity, telling the truth and always “doing honest work”, and taking my hat off in the elevator when ladies were present (when I was 9 or 10 years old, we were in an elevator and I had on a baseball cap as it stopped on a floor as we headed down to the lobby. Two older women stepped on the elevator and he lightly elbowed me and looked at my head. I instantly got the message and removed my cap!).
Sitting in the back seat of the car on family vacations while my mom and sisters were sleeping found me often staring at the back of his head as we drove for hours and hours, always feeling a sense of safety and security with him in control that he was probably oblivious to at the time. It was a sense that carried over in to every part of our lives and I knew that everything was always going to be “all right” as long as he was around.
I’ve tried hard to be a good Dad to my own son now 15 years old and be there for him as he grows up, just as my pop did for me. Regardless of how much longer my Dad, or I, have on this earth, my image of him will always be like the one in that photo from 1959: a man in the prime of his life, strong, dark haired, and with a presence I always wanted to be near.
One moral to this story I guess. You know how people who’ve lost a loved one will always say, “Make certain you say the things you need to say and do it now?” He and I have and it’s so worth it. Saying “I love you” wasn’t something he was always comfortable doing as I grew up, but it comes out of both of us easily now as do other important things.