This is among the most under-valued ‘holiday’ which isn’t so much a holiday but a day of thanking, appreciating and remembering your father and and some cases father figures. I am lucky to have lived to my upper 30’s and still have a father around to share my life with. There are soo many memories throughout the past 38.75 years – nearly all cherished. Even the bad memories have added to who I am today and will along the path of the life journey.
My father was an intimidating figure in my early years from a toddler to early teen years. He’s short, dark and good looking (as far as my father can be.) He has a mustache and mole that looks like he’s straight outta a Starsky & Hutch episodes and his style has changed/rolled with the decades. In the 70’s he mostly spent time working as a ‘commercial artist’ as well as freelancing (sounds familiar)– coupled with his love for sports cars– specifically MG Midgets and the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America). He would take me to nearly all his weekend races while my sister and mom did their own thing. He would kick ass at these events or push the lil car too much and DNF (Did Not Finish) due to him usually spinning out of control. hehe. I would watch every single race and inbetween his heats skateboard all around the concrete jungle racetracks. In the winter he was on a bowling league where he would take me every Tuesday night and hand me handfuls of quarters to perfect Centipede, Defender, Robotron, Pac-Man and tons of Pinball action. I’d come around every 30 mins or after spending what seemed to me at the time a copious amount of quarters– his Northern Natural Gas buddies talking with me, made me feel welcome. We’d ride home and I’d go on about what ‘girls’ phone numbers I got or high scores or maybe when I grow up I could be a professional pin-ball player.
As soon as I was older- 11-15 I was focused on not just girls but sports. My father taught me how to play and play very well in all types of sports: basketball, football, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, softball, swimming– the whole gamut. Spirit of competition and winning was instilled at a young age– not like today where many kids leagues don’t even keep score (wtf is that about?). On nearly all of my sports my father coached the teams I was on..and I wasn’t the only one he worked with…my sister played a good 4 seasons playing softball and again, he took the time out of his life to coach and participate in our lives. He would sponsor traveling tournaments, buy us all medals or trophies for doing good. I took this lead and example today and attend all of my kid’s games as much as humanely possible. I missed 1 football game last year for my son and just 2 volleyball games of my daughter. Never missed a soccer game or baseball. I feel it in my bones that my children will appreciate things we/I do today– for their children as well.
My mother attended all my basketball and football games as well but she was a worry wart– as she was afraid I’d get hurt and I did from time to time. I think she was proud of my sporting events and willingness to get ‘out there’.
As I got older– we moved to Houston for my father’s job. As it is today with my own kids, there’ begins a communication separation. You see less of your parents and more of your friends. You don’t sit down at a dinner table anymore but raid the fridge. I got mobile with my 2 jobs in high school, my father’s career skyrocketed and income as well. Then– like life does…shit happened. Father loses his job, my college money evaporates– I was admitted and selected to attend the Ringling School of Art & Design that year. My father fell into a deep depression and our weekends were no longer filled with fun but intense pressure, blow ups, yelling, — basically anything you can imagine went wrong. Did. I continued with my education- paying my way through a local community college, managing a video store and having my native american per capita was able to help my parents out financially as they have helped me– spoiled me really- for years. I was glad I could help.
Eventually my father finds a job out of state– I grew so very close to my parents and felt their pain every night and day. The cliche of ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ had resonating sounds when it came to my relationship with my parents.
During those rough patches it was the first time I saw the chinks in my fathers armor. I think it’s inevitable for one’s children to ‘see’ this epiphany that the people they see as strong, stable and able to count on– not happen is essential for self growth and maturing. My father COULD do wrong. Could make mistakes. Could be unfair. Could show anger for unknown reasons. He finally became HUMAN to me. It was at this point that I decided to man up myself — take more initiative with my own life and career. I finished up my college years and with the moral support of my father and mother – long distance I was able to grow up in my own right.
A few years back with us losing my mother to cancer– I was able to be by her side for the week or so. The funeral. The feelings of despair my father felt and still feels today made an impression upon me where I know that life is so very short, fleeting and the time we all have with our parents, friends and family should truly be treasured. I am very fortunate growing up with a father like mine.
I love you Dad. Hope you have a fantastic Father’s Day!