I started writing this on Father’s Day and was, as can happen, distracted by actual life events. Visits from family and then traveling can do that. I had nearly forgotten about this post until I noticed it idling there, the red “draft” sitting beside it in my post queue. It was important to me to get this piece of writing out there, so here it is… late, but no less important to me.
Originally, like most people, I started out with a Dad. One. He was full of life, fun loving, sporty, loved his coffee, loved to laugh and laughed a lot, went gray early, had false teeth, played the pedal steel guitar better than I’ve heard anyone else play it, had a major sweet tooth, was legally blind, and smiled with his eyes… Warm and full of love. My Dad was a dork, which I inherited. Totally goofy with a dork’s sense of humor. I’m honored to carry that on. I’m also so happy to have his sense of joy. It’s the best gift he passed on to me. That and his sense of play… and awe.
When I was a tad older, and not much mind you, Mom married Bill and brought another dad into my life. For 33 years he was the man of our house. Bill had a sly sense of humor, often a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a love of science and the PBS shows Nova and In Search Of, could fix nearly anything, was the best BS’er I’ve ever seen, adored his tractor, loved a good pancake breakfast, and loved my Mom. Bill taught me to love learning, whether he knew it or not. He had a keen and curious mind. Always reading National Geographic, Scientific American, and the like, he was interested in how things worked. And even though he wasn’t much of a traveler he wanted to know about the world. He was a guy who didn’t have a large formal education, but he was a very educated and very intelligent man. Bill, or Billbsy, as Kev and I called him when we were younger, was a guy of deep feelings and strong opinions. I didn’t often agree with his politics, but that was OK too. Bill had the ability to talk to anyone and did. I was always amazed at how he just struck up a conversation with the people he was around, whoever they were. He taught me to fly fish, to love small Mom and Pop motels and car trips, and passed on to me a great appreciation for the mysteries of the larger world. I am oh so grateful for those gifts and for the gift of seeing my Mom love and be loved so well.
A few years after Bill passed Mom met and married Don. I recently, after Don’s passing, wrote a blog post about him so I won’t go into all the things about Don that impressed and amazed me, but I will say that after just having attended his celebration of life I was so awed by the number of people he affected in such a positive way. He was an amazing father and grandfather. He lived an amazing life and I was so honored to have had him in mine for a time.
I gained yet another dad when I married Karen and met her dad, Don. From the beginning, even though Karen’s parents tend toward the very conservative, they accepted me, and our relationship. I knew I was in when Don, one day, put his arm around me, called me kid, gave me a little squeeze, and smiled at me. That small gesture meant more to me than I can express. He has been strong, and wise, and has shown me love from the start. I also, see an earlier blog, had the honor of being chosen by him as the forker during a new in our relationship Thanksgiving dinner. I won’t explain here, but needless to say, I was thrilled to get the job. Don is steadfast, opinionated, warm, curious, and can, even still, move fast when he’s headed somewhere with a purpose. He has a fantastic laugh and does it with a great twinkle in his eye. He gets joy from small things, which has been a great lesson for me because when it comes down to it it’s the small things that matter. He’s quiet, reads voraciously, loves his family and extended family with a passion, and is a solid rock of support and strength. I appreciate his presence in my life every day. And like I told him this Father’s Day, privately with a little kiss on his cheek, he is the only dad I have left and I love him so.
Lastly, when talking about Dad’s, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about my Grandpa, my Mom’s dad. Grandpa, who I also wrote about in a couple of previous posts, was the epitome of a fantastic father and grandfather. I learned so much from him… how to play cribbage and backgammon, how to tie my shoes, what a good person should be. He had a love for life, an adoration of family, and a playfulness and sense of joy that was so strong it still flows through our family. I was with some of the family this last weekend and I could see him in all of us. Those were some amazing genes he passed on. He is the father of my Mom and so through her, he also gave me so many gifts. I was blessed to have him in my life for so long and am so lucky to be a part of him.
As I look back at this list of fathers, my list of dads, I am amazed at the quality of the men here. They were nothing like each other, and yet the most important thing about them, their ability to love well, is shared by all of them. Most people get one dad and I have been fortunate enough to have four. They have been, and are all, each one, a blessing to me and my life. Men, who might be reading this, and I know a few uncles, brothers, brothers in law, a son in law, friends, and cousins who might, you should know you are valued. You, as fathers, are priceless. You bring so much love, joy, strength, and happiness to the children in your life. You might not know this, or be aware all the time, but you are so loved. What you do, what you provide, is invaluable, and I, for one, am so thankful and grateful to you. Watching you dads be dads is an amazing thing. It’s a joyous thing. So thank you fathers, mine and the dads I get to watch every day being fathers to their daughters and sons. Thank you, and happy Father’s Day.