Friday, June 13, 2014

Father's Day

Father's Day is almost here and I just wanted to write a short missive about my dad. On Father's Day everyone says they have or had the best dad in the world and I think that is great! Everyone should have the best dad in the world, because kids need the best dad. Dads are important and my heart goes out to those whose fathers were taken from them too soon, or worse yet, their fathers were absent. Dads set the stage for their children, regardless if they are the biological father or not. There have been so many studies that conclude that if a father is involved in a child's life, that child will be the better for it. I know for a fact that I am a better person and a better father because of my dad. My dad was really no different from many other fathers that I know of except that he was mine and who I am today is because of him.

My dad, Marvin, was pretty damned cool. He was hard working, fun loving and really cherished his family. And despite only having graduated from the 8th grade, one of the smartest people I have ever met. He could be pretty black and white in his beliefs and opinions but I was okay with that and in many ways I think there is something to be said for having strong, unwavering convictions, despite opposition and argument. He grew up during the Great Depression and much of who he was and how he lived his life was affected by that. He knew how to do without. He knew how to make things last and keep them working. He knew how to save money and spend it wisely. And he would eat anything except broccoli. He was kind of a hard guy. Simple was good enough and fancy was a waste of money. I am not sure those particular traits were instilled into me, but I came to know the value of them when I became a father myself. Maybe he experienced the same thing.

As I said before, he was fun loving. He liked to hunt but loved to fish. He loved to travel and instilled that passion deeply in me. And he loved to joke around, act silly and spend time with friends, which I also see in myself. Heck, he even would not mind dressing up in silly "old-fashioned" clothes every once in a while. He was, as my foreign exchange student Wolf Burkhardt would say, a "kunde." A sort of fun loving jokester.

Oh, and how he loved his cars. He never made enough to buy the big fancy cars that really appealed to him, but he drove what he liked and those were pretty cool. Much like himself, those cars were simple, hard working, trustworthy and got the job done.

But most of all, he was a caring parent and a wonderful father. He was strict with us without be overbearing. He did his best to spoil us without making us rotten. He was always around to help out both physically and financially. He was not a touchy-huggy-feely sort of father. I think the first hug I ever gave him was on the day of my wedding. There were more hugs to follow but he just wasn't that kind of dad. He raised five kids and raised them well. My brothers and sisters are all well rounded successful people and we love to get together and simply hang out in each other's company. Good Lord you have never heard so much noise from one group of people. If we are in a large crowd, I guarantee you that we will be the loudest group, laughing, shouting and generally having a better time than anyone else. He did that. He (and mom) made being part of the family fun. We saw him having a good time and so we simply followed along! Life is way more enjoyable when you have fun as a family. But what he did that makes him stand out as a father for me is that he was an EXCELLENT grandfather. He loved his grandkids and great grandkids.. Simply loved them to no end. He would do anything for them. He did everything a dad would do for a child and then more. I am so lucky that my kids got to know him. I wish they could have known him longer but the time they had with him, I am sure has make a mark upon them. They love to hear stories about him still, even though he passed away in 2009. I only hope that I can be the grandfather that he was.

I miss my dad. I really do. But he is not really gone for me. I can hear him in my head quite often. I can also hear him in some of what I say and see him in some of what I do. He was a good guy and I think the world would be a better place if everyone had a dad that was decent, fun loving, caring, and simply there for his kids. You can't pick your parents, but I am damned lucky I got the dad I did.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Throwback Thursdays and BFFs.

(This come as result of the Facebook gimmick, Throwback Thursday, where you post an old photo of yourself or someone and then say a bit about it. I happened to find one that I wanted to share but it inspired me to write this little missive.)

I, like many of you out there, have BFFs. You know. Best Friends Forever. At least I certainly hope you do. Friends come and go. And I don't have to tell you that in order to have friends, you have to be a friend. Keeping friendships is an active participation event. You can't just go out, find a friend and not cultivate and nurture that friendship for otherwise it will die or fade away. I have been lucky enough to have six guys that I would consider my best friends. Guys that I would go the distance for and they would do the same for me. Some I met as a child, some later in life, but each and everyone of them has a special role that they play in my life. With one of them I had the good fortune to reacquaint myself with after many years of being apart. It was great! We never lost track of each other but we did lose touch and it was great to spend a few days with him and start that friendship up again. It was like we had never been apart.

It is my sincerest hope that my kids find best-friendships that can last a lifetime. And I hope that they are lucky enough to have more than just one best friend. They say that he who dies with the most toys wins. For me it is he who has the most friends can never die, because there is always someone else to make future plans with.

So here's to you guys... those I call my best buddies. Thanks for being along for the ride!