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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Father's Day 2011

People Making A Difference, Quality of Life

Father’s Day has had different meanings for me over time.  My dad was 47 years old when I was born in his second marriage.  His standing joke was that he and mom might have had another child until they saw what I was turning out to be.  He was a bit too old to be outdoors playing ball with me or taking me fishing.  He was still my dad and he was a strict disciplinarian.  I got more than one ‘spanking’ and knew whenever I did something I shouldn’t have done that I risked another.  He was human and had his share of issues, but he loved me and I loved him.  I lost him to lung cancer at his age 81. 

In that time of his illness, he became more reflecting and verbalized things he’d never said before.  Among those memories was a simple statement about the things that had happened in his lifetime (born in 1896 and died in 1977); among those were his wonder at having been alive when the Wright brothers had first flown at Kitty Hawk and then watching on television when man first set foot on the moon.  He was a private pilot, by the way.  He had been a professional wrestler when there were no ‘pulled punches’ or ‘faked falls’.  He left that field due to a severe ankle injury and went to work as a coal miner.  He followed that with a tour as a funeral director and then became a cheese maker.  Cheese making and buying and selling were his work for the balance of his lifetime.  (I sure enjoyed the cheese curds straight from the vat right after the big salt flakes had been tossed on top.)

Then I became a father at a young age for dads and didn’t think too much or too often about how to be a dad; I just was a dad.  My wife was a great mom and she did the bulk of raising our two kids since she was with them much more than was I, given work schedules and National Guard affiliation for me.  I learned much later from my kids how they viewed me as a dad…at least the good things they thought of when they thought of my daddy hood in their lives.  They were, and are, kind since I too was human and had, and have, my issues.  My edges have been smoothed quite a bit over time as are most of our edges.  Life has a way of giving us perspective over time.

Then my son became a father and I have enjoyed both my grandfathering and watching him as a dad.  He is a much better father than I think I was or than my dad was.  I suspect that more thought goes into parenting today than it did even when we were parenting.  There may be more learning by observation than was the case for me; observing both what they thought were good fathering traits as well as not-so-good fathering traits.  I know that my son has a lot more dad in him at this time than I feel I did at the same time in my life.  His kids are benefiting from that…and maybe they’ll be even better dads than their dad is today.

In the end, I have to believe that the experience of being a child with a dad and a mom is the most important precursor to parenting.  I wish that every kid today could have both parents at home with them but our society has changed markedly in that respect.  I think that is not for the better for many of our kids’ sake, but I may be wrong.  If the single parent family came about due to an early death, or an abusive parent/spouse that needed to be weeded out of that family unit, or to a young unwed woman who didn't want to give up her child, I can understand that the environment is still better even with a single parent.

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