Sunday, June 16, 2013


Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers and grandfathers out there!

Unidentified father who once masqueraded as Bodo, a dog with multiple personalities

I have now been a father for over 21 years. I have obviously learned a lot about fathering during that time. I think it is funny that new fathers are often scared that they will somehow "break" their children during the early years. One thing you find out fast is that children are much more indestructible than you thought.

One of my characteristics as a dad includes dispensing worldly advice to my children through the repetition of boring stories, lame jokes and puns. Hey -- it seems to work for me!

What was my father like? Well, I believe that he was typical of the many men who were fortunate to return from WWII. He was a "regular guy," smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes for many years, drank Jim Beam and assorted beers like Meister Brau, was fiercely loyal to his country, had a great work ethic, ... You get the picture.

He was a blue collar worker and seemed to know an awful lot about heavy machinery, automobiles, sewer systems, and building construction and maintenance. I don't think that he ever quite got or appreciated that my frequent Las Vegas partner, the King of Komps (also known as thundering36 in blog comments, or just my brother Jim) and I worked professional jobs in education. My dad hated office work but flourished in the world of mechanics.

My family moved from the city (Chicago) out to the southwestern suburbs when I was quite young, purchasing a house from my uncle, a successful business owner and operator. As part of the mortgage payoff deal, my dad worked some evenings at my uncle's gas station after working a full daytime job. Therefore he tended to not be around quite as much when I was growing up. He also had some hearing loss (unfortunately genetically passed down to #3 son) that kept him somewhat distant from the kids until he got some hearing aids.

We used to see my dad as a sort of local Archie Bunker due to his many unique views of people and the world. He was sure to comment on someone race or ethnicity, but it was not done in a hateful manner. He was actually quite a funny guy in his later years and relished donating time to worthy causes such as the local Meals on Wheels program. I got started on the Meals on Wheels route one summer when I was in college, and when I was set to return to school, he took over the route for me. I believe he kept delivering meals on the same route for over 20 years!

The last years of his life were challenging as he dealt with physical ills as well as the onset of dementia. My family was actually relieved that the physical problems caused his death before the cognitive problems became overwhelming. He died shortly after his 80th birthday, almost 9 years ago.

As I have grown older, and now having three kids aged 16-21, I have certainly appreciated more and more what my dad did for me and my siblings. I don't know that anyone can ever understand or appreciate the sacrifices fully unless he is a father himself.

Being a father is a great but tough job. I only hope that as I get older and someday leave this earth that my children will have the same appreciation for me as I did for my dad.

I write this as I am watching television. Our beloved Chicago White Sox are getting their butts kicked once again. It would have been a perfect afternoon to spend with my dad.


Anonymous KenP said...

One of my characteristics as a dad includes dispensing worldly advice to my children through the repetition of boring stories, lame jokes and puns.

That is fatherhood???

We thought that was your blog. We all find it an equally riveting experience too. Now, about our allowances...

8:39 AM  

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