June 15, 2014

Father's Day

There are many reasons Father's Day seems to play second fiddle to Mother's Day. First, the stereotype that moms are much more involved with the children holds true in my made up figure of 89.3% of American families. Moms do more, so they deserve more of our thanks. Another is that (again stereotypically) guys are not as easy with expressing or receiving gratitude and emotion. Just doing my job folks, no need to make a big deal out of it, and save the money, it doesn't grow on trees you know.

I have mentioned several times here and elsewhere how fortunate I am in my family, and I was reminded about it over breakfast this morning. I still haven't stocked the fridge after house/dog sitting for three weeks, so I went out to the local breakfast joint. I sat at the counter as I always do. Many families were out to celebrate over pancakes and bacon, but at my end of the counter, it was mostly single guys. 

The guy to my left was a bit younger than me. He appeared to be a regular, and was also named Sean. Many knew his name, so I kept looking up whenever he was greeted. To my right was a man not quite my Dad's age, but definitely a generation up. Where Sean was pleasant and engaging, the older man was brusque and gloomy. He swatted away normal conversation like circling flies, and talked over the waitress as if she were an impediment. 

When the waitress brought Sean his bill, she asked him if he was doing anything with his dad later in the day. Sean sort of chuckled a "no" and went on to explain that he hadn't spoken to his dad in years. He thought for a moment, and said the last time he called his dad was 1999, and the conversation did not encourage another call. I felt bad for Sean, and wondered if the clipped speech of the man to my right was avoiding the mention of Father's Day for a similar reason. 

So much of who I am is tied up in my parents. No need to discuss nature vs. nurture, as they were the major players in both. As is often the case, as I get older it is easier to see myself in my folks, or really them in me. Traits, mannerisms, ways of thought and speech. It is a common trope to freak out when you end up becoming like your parents, but I do not have those kinds of fears. 

I see in him my critical thinking, not satisfied with the trite answer. He gave me my love of books, though it did take a while to sink in. I see in him my belief in the system, as flawed as it may be at times. That it is not this separate entity, but an amalgamation of all of us, and that it fails principally when we don't take part. 

I think my love of the outdoors can be traced back to Dad as well. We went camping before I can remember, and on hikes when I was old enough to climb up a hillside (though probably not without a little whining). I have this flicker of a memory of him trying to cook Huevos Rancheros over a tiny pack stove, though I can't swear whether it was real or of the freeze-dried variety. He won't lay claim to any of the "crazy" running or biking I do, but I think the seeds of just getting outside were planted early. 

And my desire to write came from Dad. I can't exactly trace this one, but I know it is there. I didn't grow up reading anything he wrote (that didn't come until blogging took hold), but somehow I knew he wrote, and that it was important. He may be why I wrote journals in my twenties, and blogged in my forties. The desire to write a book someday may have started with him, and I was glad to have him as one of my first readers. 

There have been other influences that tweaked the path I have taken, and who I have become. Some may have been improvements, while other pieces probably aren't as good as the original version. I don't know what it is like to be a parent, and I can't swear to how it all gets passed down, but I feel pretty proud to be a blend of both Mom and Dad.

I was trying to take some notes on my phone at a stop light, and used the voice recognition to do the typing. When I said "Father's Day", the choices I was given were "Mothers Day", Mother's Day" and "Mother's Day in the UK." We are all a bit better at thanking mom, and apparently the database needs a bit of updating. Maybe Father's Day is more important in that respect. A spot on the calendar to say what we don't always say, and maybe things that dads would normally shrug off so as not to get all deep and fuzzy. 

So, we'll keep it simple. Happy Father's Day Dad. You are one of a kind, and I am glad you are mine. 

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