Tomorrow, April 14th would have been my father’s 76th birthday. Of my parents, I tend to reference my mom more in my blog posts, but I did write about my dad in How Things Work, Or the Tools that We Need back in February. And he comes up here and there, especially when I am writing about fixing things.
My dad was a flawed man (really, aren’t we all?) with a good heart. He believed in following the rules and became disillusioned when that method did not lead him to the success he anticipated. I take from him this do-it-right attitude, but temper it with my mom’s belief in tailoring the rules to suit logic & reality so I can offset the disillusion with the just-get-it-done mentality often found in businesses.
My father had a very strong work ethic – do the necessary work and then the rest will be more deeply enjoyed. The only problem is that it seems like it is harder and harder to tell when the work is really done as the to-do lists grow and grow. We grumbled terribly, and often, when coming home from any trip because we were required to unload the car and unpack everything and put it in its proper place. And yet, now all three of us still do the same and see the value in it.
These relentless obligations took a toll on the relationship that my father had with each of his children in several ways sadly. He was deeply rooted in the now defunct (thankfully) father role of sole bread winner and therefore missed out on the warm, fuzzy side of parenting. We only got to see glimpses of his joy – water fights which nearly ruined the newly planted grass in our back yard, snow ball fights in a different back yard, dad as Monopoly tycoon. In my late teen years, we spent several months playing Tripoli as a family and I smile at the memory.
I learned a great lesson in perseverance and dispute resolution from my dad when I was trying to register for classes one year. We were in the process of moving and I was trying to register at the community college as an interim step but was informed that I didn’t qualify as a resident. I went to my dad’s office and he got on the phone. He worked through several people, carefully making his case, until he got someone who could understand that I should qualify. I went back and registered successfully.
My dad passed on his deep respect for history, Abraham Lincoln was an icon who interestingly died on the very same date of my dad’s birth. Coincidence or connection? We each have so very much to offer, small things and larger, and sometimes it is good to examine these individually so as not to lose any good parts. Happy birthday, minus one, to my dad and anyone else who is celebrating on April 14th.
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