For My Dad, on Father’s Day

This is a stream of thought Faulkner-esque entries that stems from a few years in seminary, my distain of Hallmark holidays and my complete and utter dislike of how we completely seem to ignore how multiple influences impact the raising of a child.  I’ve long thought fathers have received the short end of the gift stick (I mean, how many grills, ties and dress shirts does one person need?). 

In seminary, we received countless, countless cautions about being careful on Mother’s Day or in general celebrating motherhood for the woman who could not either by choice or biology be a mother and be careful to tend to her needs.  In chaplaincy, we received the same warning about caring for a woman who lost a child either at birth or early in life.  I asked, once, what about the father? “They tend not to want to talk.” Ok? Shouldn’t that be where the road rises to meet them? Laser like glares let me know my questions were not wanted so I returned to my computer game tuning out the “feelings of the woman” conversation.  Having sat with couples who lost a child, there aren’t words but the father’s grief is just as present and sadly often ignored.  As I watched FB posts from friends, I realized how many of my friends have lost parents, many of them fathers.  Maybe it’s because we don’t tell our fathers what they mean to us or the silly things we remember until it’s too late, I found myself thinking about this over the past week. It seems we sadly do not tend to the pain of losing a father and the void it creates in the same way.  In many ways, I feel a sense of guilt for having two parents, still married. I know I am so fortunate.

 Yes, I bought my father a Father’s Day gift! It’s sitting in my car to be mailed (ok, I got the date wrong!)So, with all my love, here are the greatest lessons my father has tried to teach me – sometimes against the better wishes of my mother.  Some are funny, some are serious but they are all my dad.

1)      When I left for college, my mom peppered me with more useless advice about oh, studying (given my GPA, I probably should have listened).  My dad offered up two great tips. Always mix your own drinks and never call home after drinking. Wise advice. I did not fall victim to the Gorilla Fart drink.

2)      Even when you work your hardest, you might fail and that is ok.  I learned this lesson early on.  My dad is 6’5”.  When my sister and I were 5 and 6, we would play basketball against him.  Not H-O-R-S-E. 2 on 1. He blocked our shots! And we’d beg to play again until we figured out how to score.  Usually, it was a back door pass and a lucky shot that would be the game ender of Dad 20 something – Girls 2.  We always swore we would beat him.  My oldest niece and I finally revenged 30 years of frustration when we beat my dad, his twin and my oldest nephew in a game of 21: 21-10.

3)      Grilling is the only way to cook meat.  Never mind its -20 outside with an insane wind chill.  Hamburgers that are not grilled are not food.

4)      If you can answer to the face in the mirror, and be happy with the answer, you are doing well. 

5)      Standing up for what you believe in can leave you alone on a ledge.  Many are surprised when they find out my father is a Vietnam Vet.  He served in country, he turned down open deferments. His reasoning was simple: his not going meant somebody else did.

6)      Make time for your family.  My dad always came home for dinner.  He didn’t bring work home – he would go back to the office.  The family story is that when I was 2 or so my dad had taught me shapes: not circle, triangle, square but rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoid.  My grandmother asked me what shape something was and I told her “and isosceles triangle”.  Now, given my later struggles in Geometry, I think Dad should have kept going!

7)      Cheer for your team even if they are a made up bird. Or a green thing with a long snout.

8)      Color your food. Purple pancakes are fun in the middle of winter. Experiment with ingredients. Culinary disasters are just as much fun as same old same old.

9)      Before you object, protest or boycott, understand the complexity of an issue rarely is something as simple as it seems. 

10)   Vote.  If you didn’t vote, you didn’t participate.

11)   Never mistake horseradish for sour cream.

Love you Dad.

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2 Responses to “For My Dad, on Father’s Day”

  1. Allison Sousa Says:

    Love it! And love your dad, too :)

  2. wbarrybaker Says:

    thanks. I suppose i will get it out of the car in three weeks.

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