The last time I was home to visit my parents, I had a kidney stone. A very painful kidney stone which is now gonna cost me big bucks in hospital bills…but I digress. This story isn’t about my kidney stone. Well…not really. The point behind this story is, after coming home from the hospital after receiving medical treatment, my Dad, while washing dishes in the kitchen sink, proclaimed that, back when I was younger, I was an easy kid to raise.
Funny that a few weeks later and I’m just now getting around to thinking about this. And the reason I am thinking about it is because I’m thinking I must feel the same way HE must’ve felt so many years ago. I’ve truly been blessed with 2 great children. It’s not that they do no wrong. God knows they both can get on my nerves at any given time. And I know that eventually they will make mistakes…because we all do. I know I did. Despite my best efforts, I KNOW that I made some really dumb mistakes in my lifetime. Luckily, with my mistakes, no one got injured or lost any limbs (Although I do recall one time, playing in the basement at our old house and nailing my sister with one of those giant arrow things in her forehead. Yeah…THAT could’ve been a disaster…). We all make mistakes. And the thing about my Dad is…he never stopped me from making mine and I learned from them.
Everyone in my family knows I’m a mama’s boy. My Mom and I are like peas in a pod. She’s the apple of my eye and I love her dearly. But what I don’t think anyone really knows is that secretly? I’ve always thought my Dad was the best thing that ever happened to me. I know, this is gonna SHOCK my Mom and I want her to know that this doesn’t mean I don’t love her more than Dad because we all have that special place in our hearts for our mothers and mine is amazing. But my Dad? He never gets the credit he deserves and so…after his comments at the kitchen sink and after a little blowup I had with my son the other day, I thought I should show some love for the man who showed me how to do this thing called “fatherhood.”
Here’s the thing…as a child, my Dad never forced me to do anything I didn’t WANT to do that wasn’t in my best interest. Was I responsible for doing my chores? Yes. Was I responsible for doing my homework? Yes. Was I responsible for taking care of my brother & sisters when my parents were at work? Yes. I had responsibilities. And the reason I knew that those responsibilities were mine was because I saw what my Dad did. My Dad taught me responsibility. Not in forcing me to do things….but by being who HE was.
I remember when my Dad used to take me to work with him. It’s 5am in the summertime. He and I would load my bike into his car and head into McConnelsville where he would prepare breakfast for the customers at the Blue Bell restaurant. I usually never hung out there with him. He had stuff to do and for him to stop and show me what he was doing would’ve slowed him down. I might have helped a little bit, I don’t recall. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. But despite the fact that he didn’t make me stay and peel potatoes or wash dishes for 8 hours, I saw him doing what a father does. A father goes to work. He provides to the best of his abilities. I’m sure my Dad has joked about his hours that he worked. We all do. But I don’t remember ever hearing him complain about them to me. As far as I remember, he loved what he was doing. This was a lesson all in its own and I don’t know if he ever realizes that in all those years, he was teaching me to do what I wanted to do and do it well.
When it came to sports, I was a late bloomer. I didn’t start playing basketball until maybe the 6th grade. I was tall and lanky so…I played in a Sunday “league” at my school. We were the Dayton Flyers. Why I remember this, I have no idea. Anyway…my Dad always supported me playing any sport I wanted to play. Just get out there and play hard! He never forced me to play. Never once do I remember him saying, “Ok…basketball season is over. Time to get out there and play baseball!” Never did he push me to do anything I didn’t WANT to do. It was always MY choice. As far as I know, he never talked to the coaches, never bad-mouthed other players, never did anything to get me ahead of anyone. It was all up to me. He taught me to be the player that I wanted to be. No one else dictates what you enjoy doing. My Dad let me do what I enjoyed doing. And he always supported me no matter what I was doing.
My Dad loves my Mom. More than anything, I think seeing the way my Dad treats my Mom is one of the most important things that I’ve learned from him. As all married people know, marriage is a full-time job. It’s hard work sometimes and it can be downright infuriating! I remember there being fights between my Mom & Dad. All couples fight and I honestly don’t remember what any of those fights were about. I remember some yelling. Maybe a cuss word (but nothing very harsh). But my Dad never hit my Mom. He never said mean things behind her back about her. And he has always been affectionate with her. And, most importantly, he listens to her…kind of….even when she’s going on about something that he has very little interest in and the game is on. My Dad showed me what it was like to love someone and how to handle their little idiosyncrasies through years of marriage. 20 years into mine, I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. And I know I haven’t been the husband my Dad has been. But I feel like I have a firm footing on being a husband, even if I’m not quite as calm as he is during stressful times. LOL!
Anyway…my Dad thinks I was an easy kid to raise. Well…he needs to consider who I was watching while I was growing up. Thanks for being such an important person in my life Dad. You’re the only person I look up too in this world and I want to thank you for being the man I always want to be. I love you!