Many noteworthy pieces have been written about fathers and the indelible roles they have played in the lives of their children. Some express gratitude while others express resentment. As I do not harbor the latter, this shall be a brief reflection upon some of the things that make my pater familias worthy of praise, admiration, and love.
I can only imagine what an incredible pain in the ass I was as a child. I suppose all children are in some ways. However, I am often regaled with stories of my youth that include how energetic and curious I was. How I could recite every word from Terminator 2: Judgment Day by age 5. How enchanting it was to listen to the conversations between my younger brother and I. How I was only once the length of my father’s right arm. All of these memories are recalled with warmth and pleasure, perhaps portending the wonderful memories I shall make when I have children of my own.
I distinctly remember the travails and tumults, not for the absence of cheerful memories, but because of the closeness it fostered between my father and I. Life has thrown innumerable obstacles at me meant to test my mettle. My physical durability. My sanity. And in all those lacrimous and painful times, my father was there to listen, to heal, and hug. To offer remedies, even if I would not listen; youth exaggerates problems that are typically simple or banal and prevents us from taking note of solutions proffered to us. Like any father worth their salt, he told me I could aspire to greatness and that knowledge was worth cultivating. He taught me to be financially prudent (after many long years of forceful inculcation which was no fault of his) and make contingency plans. He implored me to trust myself, to have courage, and to never surrender. He gave me my love of driving.
Sometimes, he thinks he could have been a better father; indeed, he laments that he might have failed in some aspects. To that, I say bullshit. I understand the existence of such a regret, but to embrace this idea would diminish all the lessons he taught, all the birthday phone calls, all the movie theatre excursions, the laughs shared over dinners, the beaches, and vacations we shared. It would be to abnegate all his words of encouragement and consolation. Don’t get me wrong, not all days were rosy and well; many are cast in arguments, cruel words, and screaming matches. C’est la vie, no? But to equate his fatherhood to failure would be an egregious calumny.
This post is meant to remind him that he did not fail. And that I’m lucky to have him.