Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

It's not often that I have occasion to dwell on my father, his having passed away in '83, when I was only a lad. It's even less often that I am able to even use the word "Dad" (though I do call my stepfather Pop). This, however, is one of those days. I'd like to think he's probably good and proud of what he started. This is the time of year I offer my gratitude. Thanks for everything, Dad.


I was going to leave it at that, but, the more I think about it, I guess I have some more thoughts to offer on the subject of fathers and fatherhood. It’s probably because it’s something I don’t think I fully grasp yet.

I remember my Dad is spurts. He’s not someone I dwell on as much as I once did, but the memories I have of him come in photographic flashes. They’re attached to actual photos, triggered by someone else’s remembrances or pulled out of my own head. I feel like my own recollections are blurred images, even, ones that I have to concentrate on for quite some time before they ever come entirely into focus.

Here is the truth: I don’t feel cheated for only having him in my life for 8, maybe 9, years. I don’t feel like others should feel sad for my not having him around anymore, though they sometimes are, much more so than myself. By all accounts, he was a great man who I hold more admiration for now than I did when he was alive. I’ve gleaned plenty from those who I still hold close to me about him over the years, as he has been a fairly consistent source of intrigue, reflection and overall sadness. I choose not to be sad, though, for he wasn’t. His life was a celebration.

Here’s a bulleted version of the man who gave me my name. It’s not meant to be an all-inclusive profile, but perhaps a longish peek instead:

  • He liked to work on the farm, feeding our cows by the bottle and riding around on the tractor of a lawn mower we owned. He liked to muck around the beehives we were raising honey for (sometimes getting good and stung in the process). He was a man of the earth and quite enjoyed the richness that Missouri had to offer, even poeticizing about the state.
  • His laugh is one I can actually still hear; when he did so, his mouth was wide and full of its share of gold-capped teeth.
  • He had exactly one long hair on his chest, one he was very proud of. He never allowed my mom to pull it out.
  • My mom and dad were very much in love with one another and were not ashamed to show that in front of their kids. It was pretty much the norm to catch them kissing. We got used to it. It made us both embarrassed and happy.
  • He worked hard at his job as an anchorman to provide for us, hence the trek that started in California, moved through Tennessee and Salt Lake and ultimately ended in Missouri. It was a real treat to get to see him at his job by just turning on the TV.
  • He took me fishing before everybody else woke up. We caught our proud share of trout.
  • He was a relentless joker and tickler. Funny, funny guy. Shoving my face in the snow and telling me to eat it wasn’t funny then. It does make me chuckle now.
  • One of his greatest, most remembered expressions for me was uttered each Christmas morning: “Great Scott!” I think it meant “Lookit all these freaking presents!”
  • He had a great love for God and his fellow men, seeking both to understand holy scripture and show an outward expression of love to all those who surrounded him.

I could go on, maybe, but these are some of the things I recall when given to reflection. When somebody learns that I lost my father early on, they usually say, “I’m sorry.” Thing is, I’m not. It was a life well-lived on his part. And, given that kind of a start, I’m fairly certain it just would have continued to get better. He left behind some kind of legacy. To try and match that is certainly daunting, but inspiring as well. He gets to belong to that “Forever Young” category, the sort of man who will never lose his hair or acquire wrinkles. Having some of his looks, I get to grow old for the both of us. Perhaps I’ll end up looking like he may have.

I have another version of a father, too, who has been in my life for the past 17 years or so. I happen to like him quite a lot. It’s hard to believe it’s been quite that long, but my stepfather Rick has become a wonderful friend to me in that length of time. He’s been able to hear my thoughts as they hit and worked as a pretty good sounding board over the years. He’s steered me clear of financial misery by offering sound advice. We share music with one another and each enjoy a well-seasoned Ribeye or good cut of sushi. We enjoy a good joke. We enjoy sharing those jokes with one another. I wrote him a poem years ago entitled “Substitute Teacher,” musing about his taking over for my dad, teaching the lessons he may not have got around to yet. He’s been passed the baton. He’s doing a good job.

There are plenty of other fathers to consider, too. Each man I’ve looked up to has had a father to steer him properly. I have a great amount of love still for the grandpa who raised my father and his siblings and the grandfather who brought my mom up (the very same one she claims passed his sense of humor on to me). There are the men who’ve married my sisters and been responsible for their continued happiness and prosperity. There are the brothers who I know will be molded into great men and fathers once they become of age and settle down. It’s an amazing thing to dwell on, really. To offer a pat on their collective backs seems trite, but all of them certainly win my admiration.

I’ve never been a father. As far as I can tell, I’m not very close, either. I’m not in a relationship. I’m not dating a steady anybody. But, given the examples I have to go off of, I certainly look forward to giving it a shot.

21 comments:

aisy said...

i'm sure he is real proud. this was very sweet... thank you.

bestsariah said...

That picture is really funny. And cute.

ewesa said...

he has your hands

Dainon said...

Correction: I have his hands. And he's got me in his hands, too. Yup, that lil guy is me.

Anonymous said...

I love it Dain. You reflect what Dad was and surely still is. I miss him too. This is well-said; better than I could. Sure love you, broter!
Mel

Rick said...

....a poet is one who can say what only resides in anothers heart...this is well said...your Dad sees you use this talent and I am sure is able to read and feel what you have written. Thanks for your remarks...makes me want to do better...
Rick

plainoldsarah said...

hey! what's up with making me cry? I think it was rick's comment - or maybe just all of it. I did laugh a bit - our dads are so stinking different - but in some essential ways the same. very cool.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dainon for putting down what all of us feel about Dad. He means so much to all of us. We all love him. I love you for sharing you with all of us. Nic

Wenna said...

That's really sweet.. :)

Sherpa said...

that's a well written tribute. Very nice.

bestsariah said...

One chest hair? Well you sure didn't take after him in that respect.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Dainon Jay, Beautiful account for a beautiful life. You know I love to hear your perspective and you were right on about Daddy's and my romance. I love you, Mom

Crystalbell said...

That was very touching and beautifully written.

Also, I'm going to have to agree with Sara on the chest hair, you definitely didn't take after your father on that one.

k8 said...

that was incredibly sweet dainon. i'll bet your dad is right proud o' you.

heatherlynn said...

okay. so this completely made me cry because my dad died when i was 15 and i so relate to everything you said. and so did your mom's comment. fabulous!!

Dainon said...

No more of this crying, people. This is a happy post. Really!

Laura said...

This post made me fall in love with you, Dainon.

f*bomb. said...

"Shoving my face in the snow and telling me to eat it wasn’t funny then. It does make me chuckle now."

I can't wait to have kids just to play tricks on them and then later say, "Wasn't that SOOOO FUNNY?!?!"

... said...

This was lovely.

DJ said...

Dainon... I love that you all share your own thoughts about Daddy. Honestly your thoughts and stories prove to me that he was a great man! I really wish I could have known him like you all did. That story about you and daddy play'n in the snow is really funny..I was laughing for a good two minutes after reading it, cause I can SO see him do that. Its a Moody thing to do. Thanks for everything bro. Keep well!

DJ

heatherlynn said...

the crying was because it is a happy post. good stuff to remember. tears of joy action. well done.