I have a number of friends who have become fathers in the past year, either for the first time or in a relapse (you know who you are). My brother is celebrating his 6th Father's Day.
I want to recognize my own father and wish for each of you that you can be this kind of model for your children. And since I forgot to buy and send a card in a timely fashion (y'know, cuz I'm an awesome son and Father's Day is a tough holiday to keep on the radar) and our call this morning was cut short due to the absolutely abysmal cell reception in York Beach, Maine (yeah, I'm calling you out York - get with the program here!), I thought a timely blog post would be in order.
For those of you who don't know him, my father is a big man. Not as big as I am, and he's certainly gotten physically smaller over the years as he deals with a number of health issues. But I remember him as being big, able and anyone who has ever known him would agree that he's big in personality and of character.
My brother and I grew up in a home filled with love and we were fortunate that both of our parents were able to spend an inordinate amount of time with us. Since they were both teachers, we were all on similar schedules and I remember them being very involved with everything we did. I took it for granted that parents were always at sports and band and plays and school things and whatever else, because my parents were.
My father coached us from an early age, serving as the coach of various sporting teams - soccer, little league, basketball, hockey. And it was hockey that we fell in love with and that consumed immeasurable time of my father's schedule. But he never complained (or never let us hear?) and (seemed to) enjoyed it.
It wasn't until years later that I fully appreciated how much of a commitment that was and how unusual. I don't know that I can fully appreciate it even now.
As an electrician, Dad worked big construction when he was younger. But a dip in the construction market came as he was starting his family. While the pay might not have been as good, teaching was consistent and it gave him summers off. I remember years when my father worked all summer doing side wiring jobs. Those were interspersed with summers where he didn't work at all and we took epic, once-in-a-lifetime trips.
My father's work ethic and desire to see more took us up and down the eastern seaboard a number of times, through some of the biggest national parks, cross-country, to Hawaii for a month, and to Bar Harbor, one of our favorite places to go and home to one of our favorite hikes - The Precipice.
As much as my brother and I give him a hard time for his collection of truly terrible jokes (what's a Henweigh?), he has a wonderful sense of humor and a playful, pranking side that either rubbed off on or exacerbated my mother's mischievousness.
My father loves to tell us how uncreative he is and that my mother, brother and myself are the creative ones. Yet over the years I have watched him as a photographer, a potter, a tailor (and a frigging good one, too - he hemmed and mended all of our clothes growing up), a cook, a mechanic, a designer, upholsterer, game designer (for a host of custom-designed learning games my mother devised for her classes), landscaper and farmer. While he may not draw or write, I truly do not know many artists that can claim to be as creative as my father.
I could fill a book with the things he taught us over the years, but perhaps the greatest thing was that he showed us what it meant to be a man - kind, compassionate, hard-working, patient (I can say patience beyond reason is one of his virtues after having dealt with our nonsense over the years), strong, principled, clever, earnest.
This is to say "thank you" to my father and "happy father's day" and to wish that those of you who are fathers can take some of those qualities on as you raise your own children.