|Enjoying Brazil vs. USA at Fed-Ex Field|
I feel like Father's Day is as good a time to declare that as any.
This is no slight to my Mom (who reads my blog faithfully) or to any of the other moms or women in the world. (I love you, Mom!)
Given that it is nearing Father's Day and I'm working on a project called "Dude Write" that is honoring the male bloggers of the world, what better time to honor a guy who taught me a lot about life.
Let me get one thing straight from the get-go...no matter our station in life or our ages, my dad will always be "Dad" and I know that sounds obvious. I suppose that there are a myriad of things I could call him, but only some fit.
He was never a Papa because I wasn't born in the twenties in Italy, nor are we Italian. Likewise, he never got a Pa, because we aren't in the south or the thirties. Additionally, he has never been called Padre or Poppi or Pops.
He was for a time Dada, then Daddy, though as a young man grows up the latter is more suited to the girls in the family, as in "Daddy's Little Girl."
Father is very formal and from a time gone by. Robert Young starred as the title character in "Father Knows Best" and his kids actually called him "Father." That has always been too formal for our relationship. You can't say "Father, did you fart?" or "Father, did you watch the game this weekend?" and certainly not "Father, grab me a beer while you're up!"
Enjoying being a first time grandfather to some awesome grandkids, he got the opportunity to choose his ultimate patriarchal moniker, Gramps. Though it sounds like cramps, the kids could all say it and that made him happy.
Now, to me, he is Dad. It fits.
I've honored a request he made of me when I was but a youngster. His simple request was that I never refer to him as "My Old Man." I don't know if this was some sort of vanity on his part, but frankly he has never been vain in any other area of his life. He kept a buzz cut through the seventies and grew longer hair and a full beard in the eighties, so a glory seeking fan boy he was not.
I never questioned the request. I have a good friend who referred to his dad in that way, lovingly of course, and he would often ask "how's your old man?" This seemed like an innocuous question that didn't seem like I would have to dishonor the request. I always took his question and was clear in my answer that "my dad" was good.
The interesting thing about my Dad is that he's been winging the fatherhood business my entire life. You see, his father passed away when he was a child. He had just turned six. Adding to that wonderful year, not more than a week after his dad died, he had to go into the very same hospital to have his tonsils removed. Many people wouldn't have been able to turn that around.
Here are just a few things he has taught me:
- Honor your country, remove your hat and be reverent during the national anthem. (He hates the "OH" thing as much as I do!)
- Honor God and you don't have to be in church on Sunday to talk to him.
- Love your wife and forgive her when she notices your many faults.
- Spend time with your kids, nursing homes aren't "home."
- Hugs are always appropriate. Get over it!
- Work hard and enjoy the rewards of it.
He didn't teach me to fish or to hunt, which his dad probably would have been inclined to teach him. He taught me to bird watch, play chess, enjoy soccer, drive, and probably most important not to take myself too seriously.
I had the pleasure to work with him for more than 10 years and his work ethic was always just right, somewhat a "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" routine where we worked hard when there was work to be done, but no month went by when a bit of tomfoolery was needed or a caraf of red wine needed to be used to spark creativity in what would turn into a half day. He would refer to the "boss in the mirror" and talk about whether he would take a day off.
I'm lucky to have a great relationship with my dad as I work towards the years of my own fatherhood.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.
What do you call your paternal ancestor?