like i said yesterday, my father grew up in a different era.
men of that time period (he was born in 1925), were born into a different world than what know now. as a child of the depression, my dad was tough and independent. a man’s man. talking is what you did around the lunch wagon and on coffee breaks. feelings and nurture and caring and sympathy were for women.
we were as close as most fathers and sons were back then. i knew he loved me by how he provided. he was interested in the things i did…but from a distance. his work was his world. his home (my home) was his castle…the place he rested in so he could go back to work.
friendly, but not warm. present, but detached. committed, but not close. a leader, but a closed book. faithful, but not compassionate. forgiving, but not gracious. loving, but really rough. he perceived his role as a my dad as important to let me grow up on my own. learn from my own mistakes. carve out my niche without his teaching or input…even though i needed it…and wanted it.
here are a few things i learned from life with my dad…even though he never knew that he was teaching them to me:
i want my boys to know me. i never really knew my dad. i watched him from a distance. i knew what he did, but not what made him tick. i didn’t know what i was missing, until it was too late. he never let me inside. i’ve worked hard to help my boys know who i really am. it’s hard work. it’s not over. i’ll keep giving it my best.
i learned to rely on others to teach me. for some reason, i never grew up with this great desire to prove to people…any people…that i could do things on my own. somewhere along the way, i began to value the pursuit of wise counsel. i love asking for help. it does not emasculate me to admit i don’t know how to do something. i am encouraged and empowered by interdependence.
i learned the value of sitting and talking. no question, this is one of my dominant values. there are few things closer to my heart than the exercise of stopping what i am doing, in order to enter the world of another person through conversation. learning this was not intentional. there was no modeling. maybe missing it is what made it so important.
i learned the importance of going deep. my hunger to have deep, meaningful conversations is great. i can small-talk with the best, but i am ultimately drawn to deeper water. what do you think? what do you feel? where do you struggle? what are your fears? what are you anxious or worried about? what are your goals? what are your doubts? what are you learning? i couldn’t answer any of those questions about my dad. nor could he answer them about me. i am different now.
what i believe and how i live need to match up. my father admitted to being a religious man. his faith in god was deep, but it was definitely reserved for sundays. for the most part, his life of faith did not translate to his day-to-day living. somewhere along the line, i began to understand that following christ had to be an all or nothing proposition for me.
we stand on our own before god. nobody stands for us. nobody can take our place. the faith of others will not work for us. as i grew in my faith, there were some years that i desperately wanted my dad to connect to god in a deeper way…but he couldn’t. he didn’t know how. it broke my heart, but i had to let him stand on his own. it is the toughest lesson i have ever had to learn. i still struggle with it today…it is no less difficult, but no less true.
i loved my dad. i wanted him to be proud of me. in his own way, i think he was. very proud. i am grateful to have known him. i’m proud to have his name.
happy father’s day to all my fraternity.