Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fathers and Sons

Today is my father's birthday. He is now 77. I am writing with one eye on the clock as I need to gather up my kids and make the hour and thirty minute drive down to my brother's to be on time for my father's birthday party.

I wish I could say that my father and I have a warm and close relationship. We do not. I do my best to fulfill the responsibilities a son has to his father but I confess that I do little more. This is the way that it has always been and I am afraid that this is the way that it will continue to be. However, there are times when I feel closer to him than others. This past week was one of those times.

In the life of a very close friend, something happened last week, that at least temporarily, brought me closer to my father, and brought me back to a pivotal time in the life of our family. When I was 9 my father had his first heart attack. He was 43. He had his first triple bypass two years later when I was 11. Needless to say it was a time of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.

My father responded to his health difficulties in a way that I suspect that is not all that unusual; he believed that his time was short and that he needed to get done as much as he could as quickly as he could. My father, brother, and I embarked on a series of projects that my father felt needed to get done quickly. In the span of two years we restored a truck, finished a basement, and built an addition to the house. My brother and I dug ditches, poured cement, broke rocks, sandblasted truck parts, shingled roofs, and pounded many, many nails. Work conditions were not optimal.

Now, with the passage of thirty years coupled with my own experiences topped off by what happened in my friend's life, I think I better understand what my father faced. As the sole provider for a family of five words such as fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness were not a part of my father's vocabulary. He did his best, even during those difficult times, to ensure that his wife and children were provided for, even if the worst should happen.

At 43 I can see that my own father did what he thought was his best and muddled through. Realizing this will make today's drive down to Rhode Island a bit easier and makes me aware that someday my own children will be driving to my home to celebrate my birthday. I hope as the do it will be with kind and happy thoughts about their dad.

1 comment:

  1. We all make mistakes as parents and we all hope that the good things we do will one day outweigh the 'human' mistakes in our children's minds. There is no perfect parent. All the best to your dad for his birthday and I hope it was a good family time for all who attended the family gathering.