Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers day, what a thing.

My kids are all pretty young still, so today was just like any other day. Their hugs and kisses, wrestling and roughhousing with me were just like all the others. They knew no differently, and rightly so.

To them, this is normal. Father's Day is every day, it is not a special moment set aside on the third Sunday in June, it is in every leaf, every explanation, under every rock we turn over together. Strangely enough it is also in every dirty diaper, every late night with a sick child, and in every scraped knee and wet rolling tear shed by my youngsters.

Father's Day is found in the mundane and the exceptional, these moments that jumble and jostle together and make up a childhood. It is 365 days a year of youth, 365 days of parenting. It is also made up of my own childhood. It's also about my own father who worked at the steel mills. It is not linear, it is looped, and exists in the future actions of my children as well.

Father's Day permeates and surrounds, the same way Mother's Day and Grandparent's Day do. It makes up an outward expression of an inward feeling, as as such the day is a good one. It allows and encourages my little children think about what it means to be a father for a moment, to catch a small vision of their own future roles, and express gratitude for all those other 364 days.

I am mostly projecting at this point as my kids are all under age seven. But perhaps in twenty years when they have kids of their own, these words just might be read by them, and they'll understand.

All this makes me think of my own dad. I mentioned the steel mill he worked at, but there were other things besides work that he taught. My dad showed me his sense of humor despite obstacles, showed me that it was OK to truly fall in love with reading, taught me about where my family line came from and that Scotland is The Brave. He taught me about his religion, taught me to be true and to work hard. These are things I love my dad for.

Oh the strange road I traveled to realize these things about my dad! Time and experience were the vehicles that peeled off the blinders that I wore; a divorce and pent up teen angst had me jaded against him for so very long. It took raising my own children--the worrying that they had eaten enough, were dressed in clothes that fit, and were getting an education, to get me to realize he did his best for me. That he still was trying his best as a father and grandfather.

This makes me think of Frost and his poem Choose Something Like a Star. My dad is steadfast, unflinching, solid.

Frost mentions in his poem that we should not carry praise or blame too far; and I will not. I do thank my dad for showing me the way that I will succeed. And that is the best Fathers day gift of all: hard work and love are the legacy that I will to pass down to my children. It is the same as was passed down to him by his parents, and theirs to them.

May God continue to allow us to pass this legacy on down the line to our children.

Happy Father's Day today and every day this year!

-Jay

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