By the time you read this, it will be Father’s Day. I’ve been getting the reminders for weeks. “Don’t Forget Dad,” they say. “Your Dad Deserves The Best.” And from shavers to tools to speakers shaped like rocks, the stores continue to try to separate you from your money in honor of Dad. That’s ok, it’s commerce. I understand how that works. But it’s a little melancholy for me. I stopped buying Father’s Day Gifts about 10 years ago.
As a dad, there are two things I’d like to receive for Father’s Day. More time with my daughter, and one more day with my dad.
Everyone’s relationship with their dad is different. Mine improved the older I got. He thought my daughter hung the moon, which made me very happy. Of course, you could probably have said that about any of his grandkids. He taught me to drive a boat, and water ski. He took me hunting and taught me to shoot. He taught me my first basic, and not so basic chords on a baritone ukulele, and I can still play “Tea for Two”. I’d have loved to have had the baritone uke he made in the basement, but is somehow got destroyed, and the guitars he started never were finished.
When I learned to fly, dad was my first passenger as a licensed pilot. If he was nervous, he didn’t show it. I’m sure I was. He invited me to sit in with The Residue, the Dixieland jazz band for which he played trombone. I played trombone, too, but somewhere along the line, the little pea shooter horn we’d both played got lost. I played that horn all through high school, while he’d gotten the larger bore “F” change horn. That one I have in a closet in my home office, along with the Gibson 4 string banjo he played when the band was first formed. I need to clean out that room so I can display them with the respect they deserve.
And while all of that sounds great, and it was, for what ever reason, I didn’t feel very close to him. At least not through high school and college. Of course, he’d gone through a lot of difficulties after the Carl Furst Company closed, and he had a very difficult time finding steady work. He finally wound up selling real-estate. I guess we’re somewhat alike in that. After losing the steady job deep in a career, he went into business for himself. Of course, there was another broker in the office, and mom got her license too, but dad pretty much bought the franchise, which mom sold, oh, about 10 years ago.
Of all those things we did together, I think he finally saw me as an adult when he came to visit when we lived in Virginia, and I took he and mom sailing on my boat. The tables were finally turned, and when I turned over the wheel to him, the circle closed. I have a couple of pictures of him somewhere, standing on the weather deck holding the shrouds. It was perhaps the peak of our relationship.
When dad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he faced it pretty stoically. He took his meds and went in for the radiation treatments and died anyway, just as we were beginning to find our way.
So for fathers day, another day with my dad would be great. Of course, we always want most what we can never have. Intellectually, I know that. But if you’re lucky enough to be able to call your dad today, be sure you do that.
The good news is, I can talk to him pretty much any time I want. I never get voice mail, and all the minutes are free.