Happy Fathers Day
I grew up in a somewhat traditional, middle class household. My mother, who had worked as an educator before I was born, stayed home to raise kids and keep the house. My father, during my earliest years, was pursuing hid PhD in political science at the University of Washington.
My earliest memories of my father were him coming home from a long day and watching with happy encouragement as I showed him I could tie my shoe. Of curling up in his lap and following along while he read me a book aloud. Thanks to him, I could already read fairly well by the time I entered kindergarten.
He would spend hours building model cars: Model Ts, Model As, all sorts. Then he’d present me with the finished product and I would happily play with them outside until they were unrecognizable bits of metal and paint. I was three. He never said a word, just enjoyed the look of happy surprise in my eyes when he handed me the next one.
When my father finished his degree, he accepted a high-level administrative position at the local college. I don’t know how he managed it, but he got me a little office next to his, with my own desk. His secretary, Bobbie Joe, would sharpen my colored pencils and wait on me hand and foot as her real duties allowed.
Dad would take me around and introduce me to all the professors and administrators. Years later, when I entered the same school as a student, I had a bunch of friends on staff all ready for me.
My father told me stories of his military service during the Cold War. He served as a translator in Germany, intercepting messages sent between Berlin and Moscow. He learned both German and Russian, though he no longer speaks either. Although he always wanted to visit Russia out of curiosity, he wasn’t allowed until after the Soviet Union fell.
Dad taught me the importance of family and of country. He taught me how to walk, then how to run. When I was five, he bought me a football uniform. When I was 15, he drove me by the local gay bar and said, “don’t ever let me catch you going in there.”
When I was 25, he wrote me a nice letter letting me know it was alright to come out of the closet. That he was my father, and loved me, no matter what.
We drifted apart during my teenage rebellious years, which lasted far longer than they had any right to. But he was there, waiting, when I pulled my head out of my rear and came back into the family fold.
He is generous, but not a pushover. He is opinionated, but not overly judgmental. He is conservative, though he claims he’s moderate. He is strong. At nearly 80, he still makes all the repairs to his home himself. He is industrious. He is wise. He is kind. He is quick to laugh and slow to anger.
Everything I am today, I owe to my parents. And, without my father, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like.
That is why, without any hesitation, reservation or embarrassment, I will call my father on Sunday to tell him that I respect him, that I honor him, and that I love him.
Happy Fathers Day.