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Father’s Day- A Different View

June 27, 2010

Last week was Father’s Day.  The paper was filled with ads on the days before, hawking everything from ties to bar-b-que aprons, just what every father dreams of.  On the big day, the paper covered the front page with testimonials from sons and daughters spouting praises for their fathers, for all the love and wisdom they had received from them.  This post is for the rest of us, who cringe on Father’s Day.

My father was career military, a farm boy who lied about his age to get in the Army and joined up before finishing high school.  His passions were baseball, hunting, fishing, and beer (in that order).  He was very good mechanically and had good common sense.  Through the military he did get a high school diploma and about two years worth of college.  He was a smart man and became a Master Sergeant early on and as far as I know was well respected by those he worked with.

What he wasn’t was a good father, at least not to his son.  When I was old enough to go hunting or fishing with him, he stopped.  We did go fishing once but I remember him getting pissed because I kept getting my line tangled.  Maybe he figured after that if we went hunting I might shoot him.  Baseball and beer tell the rest of the story.

I am left-handed.  Whether that was meant to be I’ll never know.  My father made sure I was left handed.  His rationale was that left-handed baseball pitchers have an advantage.  The only problem is I was never any good at baseball.  He and I would play catch in the front yard and after warming up he would get in a catcher’s stance and have me “pitch” to him.  After a few wild throws he would throw his glove at me, yell that I would never amount to anything and stomp in the house.  I signed up for Little League, at his urging, and he was one of the coaches.  Since I couldn’t pitch he put me on first base, remember the left hand, then I got moved to second base, then to the outfield, and finally to a position I could handle, the bench.

To this day it is hard for me to watch a baseball game, which I don’t, without having these memories surface.  When “Field of Dreams” came out it was not only hard to watch but I cried like a baby when Ray’s father stepped out of the cornfield and asked him if he wanted to play catch.

When I was nine, my older sister and I got in a fight at the dinner table over a bottle of ketchup and my father hit me in the chest knocking me out.  My mother said “If you ever touch him again I am leaving”, which I think he took as a cue to never talk to me again because now in his eyes I was a “mama’s boy”.  So between my athletic inability and my inability to take a punch he pretty well wrote me off as a son.

Now the good part of all this is that I learned early on to not need or expect outside validation from anyone and that as long as I am okay with who I am, that is enough.  There is a peace about being in this mindset that allows me to enjoy the people and things around me more than I might have without this insight.

Oh, about the beer part.  When I was ten my father decided, against my mother’s wishes, to give me a glass of beer every day.  A small glass that he said would “make a man out of me“.  This gave me an early appreciation for alcohol, which has led to my love of scotch and good wine.   Maybe he wasn’t such a bad dad after all!

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