Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Learned That From My Dad

Another day in the sunshine pondering about the latest Superman movie, I wonder how does he cut his hair? In this movie Superman, er, Clark Kent has a beard. What a great marketing promotion for Gillette to show they have blades sharp enough and strong enough to shave Superman. Where are the other marketers? How about toenail clippers? How about deodorant?  You know the man of steel must work up a sweat saving the world in that tight outfit. Might take a bit more than Axel body spray.
But today is that day that we remember our fathers or dads or pops. The guy who did what he did causing us to be here.
I talk about this every year because my dad is not here to reminisce and I only have a fleeting memory of when he was around. He was beyond middle age when I arrived and did his best to provide for my being. I was schooled and fed and clothed and followed the provincial patterned of what a youth of culture and social upbringing should do.
So the question is: “What did I learn from my dad?”
Some boys will say they learned how to play baseball from their dad or taught how to work on their car from their dad or learned how to fish or drive or even to talk to girls from their dad. Some dads were even the first dance partners for their daughters.
My dad taught me that when he came home from a long day at work, I was to go to my room and leave him alone. He would sit on the porch and watch television and was not to be disturbed. His only hobby was to sit out in the heat of the yard and pick ticks off his dog or paint the little shed. He worked later hours, perhaps to stay away from the household, and slept in church. He enjoyed providing for Christmas and was always “on” around people he needed to impress. Perhaps I learned emotional interaction or lack there of from him? Sometimes we know our day and sometimes we don't.
I don’t remember being punished by my dad or if I did it just washed over me. I think dad sort of passed that thing onto mom to handle. Dad and I did have that “birds and bees” talk but only when I was on acid and had already impregnated three girls. Maybe I learned that silence was better than confrontation?
I never heard him talk about his family or knew any of his history? I never knew why he played violin? I never knew why he shifted to trumpet? Maybe he taught me to play music to get out of advance calculus or a foreign language? Because he was my dad, his stories are my stories.
These are just observations years after he is gone. My brother may have learned something else from him, but my dad mostly left me alone. He put me into organizations like scouts or camp or choir, he helped me get into college and provided my brother and I great weddings but never sat down teaching me how to drive a nail or ride a bike. Maybe he just wanted me to learn as I went along or thought he had nothing to teach me?
Two years after my dad died, I moved from my big brick house to a simpler life to deal with his leftovers. It is said we suffer from their absence so we lay them out, dig a hole, drop them in and walk away. Maybe that was his big lesson of how a son can become a husband to a wife and a mother? Maybe that was his big escape?
My dad did teach me how to use typography to draw signs and that came in handy in my professional career. I still have the book of hand lettered type fonts. So I guess I did learn something from my dad?
Thanks pop!

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