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Sunday, June 19, 2005

My Incredible Father

When I was a little girl, my father was my hero, and still is. He was the most influential part of my childhood. He is now more than a father, he is a man that I respect and can call to debate or discuss issues with. There was a brief time in my rebellious years where I felt he was an old-fashioned neanderthal, but now my goal is to be a parent just like he is and was (with some modifications, of course).

Mark Twain said it best: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

One of the things I've come to learn is that when people become parents, they aren't living in fixed adult perfection. That was an amazing concept that I discovered when I was well into my 20s. In fact, I remember feeling a tiny bit of irrational resentment when I realized that I couldn't hold my parents to task for things they'd done wrong when I was a child, since they had stopped doing it.

When he was younger, Dad was sometimes a living contradiction. He was sometimes hot-tempered when rushed or stressed, yet when he had time for you he was the soul of patience. But then, how many of us could hold our patience driving to North Carolina on vacation while three children are in the back seat saying "Stop touching me, no you stop touching me, daaaad - he's touching me, no I'm not..." Dad finally saw the value in retreating and gave up family vacations all together.

But Dad was also the most intelligent man I've ever known, bar none. And he was also a man willing to admit to mistakes, so that we could learn that it was OK for us to do it too. And he would try to see issues from all angles, which allowed me to grow and develop my own thoughts and opinions and become my own person.

He tolerated my outrageous pronouncements with a grin, and helped me to develop the sense of humor, writing, speaking, and social skills that I posess today. He introduced me to the love of learning, and told me that even if my teachers were dull - the subjects were not. (Note to Dad, you failed in Math - though). He would let me come to him and talk about anything, and was always open and honest with me.

Dad despised those parents who say "Do as I say, and not as I do". He would force himself to change or improve if he felt we were receiving the wrong message. One day, after scolding me for not memorizing my time tables, I told him defiantly that since he didn't know the 12s tables, I didn't see why I should learn them. (Oh yes, I was a handful). He sat down immediately and memorized them all.

Dad didn't sweat the small stuff. He worried more about the big stuff, like where we were going spiritually, mentally, and physically. He would sit down and interview every potential boyfriend, but would let us pour orange juice on our breakfast cereal ("It all ends up in the same place, anyway," he would say).

Dad couldn't tell you how to get to the local supermarket, but he could tell you how to get to heaven.

He forced me to learn, and read things I never would have touched. I hated "All Quiet on the Western Front" but I learned from it. In the summers, he and Mom would force me to continue my education. I envied the kids who had full summers off, because I never knew a span of three months where I wasn't forced to think. While other kids were watching TV and playing, I was doing book reports. I felt like I was the most tormented child in the world. Thank goodness they made me do it. All parents should force their kids to learn. Heaven knows the schools won't.

Due to the diligence of both of my parents, I have a successful career and am able to talk about anything to anyone. I am open-minded (but not so open-minded that my brains fall out) and I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am a fully functional adult, despite the majority of my generation being a generation of self-indulgent, uneducated dullards.

Thanks, Dad, for not only having me, but for being a Father. I know how you always grumbled that Father's Day was a pointless marketing contrivence dreamed up by money-hungry greeting card companies, but Happy Father's Day. I hope you like this better than a $3 greeting card.

5 comments:

Tabasamu said...

Thank you so much for sharing. This moved me greatly. Your family sounds like a treasure. Happy Father's Day!

bananarama said...

Thanks for sharing with us! Happy Father's Day to you and your family.

snicksnack said...

Happy Father's Day!

MomThatsNuts said...

Hi! just happened by your blog and love your tribute to your father! Just wanted to say HI...

Mom

Saur♥Kraut said...

Mom

Thanks! For a moment I thought you were my mom, because that's exactly what she would do: sneak up unexpectedly on me and post. ;o) I'm going to check your blog out next! C U there!