I grew up in the “wait until your father get’s home” era. Even as a kid I found it unfair (not just for me) but for my Dad who just worked a 10-hour day and would walk through the door and have to punish one of us (usually me because I was the one with the big mouth) without having been through the supposed crime/event/misdeed to judge for himself. He went strictly on my mother’s story. I found this ludicrous, and said so on a few occasions. I used the word unfair of course because if I used the word ludicrous he would know I had been in the basement reading his book-of-the-month-club books that he insisted were for adults and not kids. He had no idea how books about submarines and WWII increased my vocabulary. Then my dad would tell me that life wasn’t fair and blah, blah, blah and go to my room for a while and think about what I had done/said etc. I would usually write an apology because even as a kid I expressed myself better in writing.
My dad wasn’t one to yell, I never heard him swear ever and he was just as calm as anything as he glanced up from his newspaper to tell me to take off the eye makeup “I looked liked a streetwalker.” He was however, observant. We disagreed of course, especially in my teens when I was trying to spread my wings and I felt he was trying to clip them. I can still hear the old “As long as you are under my roof…and because I said so, that’s why…” These types of statements were the end of the road. We never had yelling matches or even loud disagreements, I was allowed to express myself but it was really an exercise in futility. If he did have a change of heart on something it was usually due to my mom’s influence. This all seemed perfectly normal for that era as I look back on it and it was normal for most of my friends as well. Yeah, I respected my dad but I now realize, because he was who he was, he taught me to respect others and most importantly myself.
When I won my very first, first place award from the Illinois Press Association for an editorial I wrote years ago, it was my dad who drove a couple of hours and surprised me by walking into the newspaper office where I worked. After introducing himself to the receptionist he said he would like to speak to the award winning editor.
The whole newsroom got the biggest kick out of that. As I get closer and closer to the age that my dad died, I find myself thinking more and more about him, especially of course on Father’s Day. I now wish I would have paid a lot more attention to some of his blah, blah, blah stuff that I used to let go in one ear and out the other. Thanks dad, for telling me not to worry about being lousy at math and science because you knew I had common sense and perseverance, you were right. It has served me well. And thanks dad for holding my hand all through life even when I didn’t think I needed it, I still knew it was there.