A shout out to my Dad on Father’s Day. He may have been on continual “grumpy” mode when my brother and I were growing up (he had good cause and really, a part of that may have been a sadistic rumor started by mother – “just wait till your father gets home!”) and it may have taken him 30 years to realize he likes shorts and sandals/tennis shoes (see, they ARE pretty cool right Dad!? it wasn’t a conspiracy after all.), and he may have had a “that one’s a jerk” meter that went into overdrive every time I brought a guy home, but he has always been there for me when it counts and I have no doubt he always will be. Oh sure, he’s given us some health scares over the years that we could’ve done without (keep that in mind Dad!) but overall, he’s a pretty damn good guy.
Not everyone is meant to be a Dad, trust me, I know. But would you like to hear how I know my Dad was truly meant to be a Dad, and a good one at that? Of course you do. I’ll pretend I heard a resounding YES! at any rate.
When I couldn’t have been more than 8…my sense of time may very well be off, but I couldn’t have been much older than that. Anyway, one day while my Dad was busily fixing our pool filter (yep, we had an above ground pool that ROCKED! till I saw Jaws, that is), I was riding my bike around the yard and decided for whatever reason to try and squeeze through the little narrow path that ran along one side of the pool. Now this was a trick on a good day because there was the pool on one side and my mother’s humongous (I’m serious, it was like a mutation it was so huge) lilac bush on the other. But with my Dad steadily performing his mechanic work, the path was cut off that much more. Now I have to go back a bit to say that while my Dad always, and I mean always, wore jeans and boots, he often went without his shirt while working outside. Unless there was company. Or the chance of his getting wet (don’t even THINK about splashing my Dad with the hose or from inside the pool which he never entered…trust me on this one). And on this particular day, he was shirtless.
So here I go by on my nifty bike with the huge handlebars and truly solid, over-sized pedals (we’re talking old school here) and I would’ve made it…I swear I would have…but that damn bush got in the way at the last minute and as the branches swatted at me, it tipped me over just ever so slightly so that my left pedal caught my father smack in the middle of his lower back. Hard. His bare, naked back. No shirt for a cushion. No cloth to catch the sharp edge of the heavy metal (and not the good kind) pedal and buffer the blow. Nothing.
Now what I remember VERY clearly from this event is immediately seeing the open dent I made in my Dad’s back and realizing I better get the heck away from there before he’s able to get up. But I didn’t quite make it – he was able to raise himself up before I could flee the yard or get into the house. And to my surprise, while it obviously hurt like hell, not a word came out of his mouth and rather than come after his wayward attacker, he staggered around with his hand clapped to his back and probably muttering under his breath – as you do when a bratty kid who didn’t feel like going the other way round rams full bore into your back with a bike pedal.
What he didn’t do was yell, have a meltdown or even punish me. Oh he was angry, no doubt about that. I mean, he’s human after all. But at a time when he could have easily taken the anger and physical pain he was suffering out on the small child who had just engaged in a very stupid, stupid maneuver and injured him – and indeed, many people would have taken that route – he instead simply “walked it off.”
It’s amazing what the mind dredges up when you start thinking of your childhood and your parents. Well. This is what mine conjured up this evening as I was thinking of what to write for this entry. All I can say is, to endure the pain, to endure the worry, the absolute mind-boggling stress that your kids can throw at you on a daily basis with not just the ability but also the mindset to just “walk it off” rather than cause your offspring emotional pain…well, that’s being a stand up parent. A devoted Dad. And I’m proud to say he’s mine.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.