|Dad and his boys as pirates..Donald Duck as a parrot!|
Sitting in the kitchen having coffee, my husband Mike turned to me and saaid, “With Father’s Day coming up, you should write a blog about your Dad. He was a real character”. It’s true. Bud was something else. Not all of what he said would be printable but I assure you, it would be memorable. Of the six children that he raised, I seemed to be the one who pushed his buttons the most. Maybe that was because in many ways, we were very much alike. We were great debaters, my father and I. I would often take the opposing view just to get him riled up. “I’m your father…if I say the sky is red, it’s red because I say it’s so.” And I would answer, “Ok, Dad, I’ll say its red, but it won’t change the fact that it is blue.” I would catch a faint smile on his face as he walked away.
The thing about me that riled him the most was the very thing he loved. I actually worked him up to such a level of agitation one night that he came face to face with me and yelled “don’t you dare answer me when I’m asking you a question!” It was a true “Bud-ism” (and there were so many). I loved that man and writing about him for Father’s Day would be so easy, but it’s not the direction I’m going this week.
Suggesting that I write about my Dad is so like the father of my sons. It is his nature not to draw attention to himself. He is rather quiet and apt to stay out of the spotlight. But in a large gathering, don’t confuse his lack of conversation with indifference. He is listening. Our private talks at home, where he is anything but quiet, tells me that he heard every word. He is a good man and a great Dad. And what makes it all so amazing is that he had no leads to follow in that department.
|The boys as cowboys...Dad as their horse!|
Mike’s biological father was non-existent in his life. He was nine years old when he met him for first time and the man addressed him as “Patrick”. If first impressions are truly lasting, this one really stuck. For the most part, he was raised by a physically and verbally abusive step-father that fortunately spent long periods of time at sea as a merchant marine. They were the good days for my husband, but when “it” (as Mike and his brothers called him) came home loaded with money and alcohol, everyone’s life became hell. Except for a grandfather that he saw occasionally, there wasn’t a positive male role model that he could attach himself to.
As he grew into a man, Mike was determined not to follow the pattern of abuse that was heaped upon him as a child. When he first became a father, he confided in me that he probably wouldn’t be the strong disciplinarian type because he wasn’t sure where the line was drawn and didn’t want to hurt his boys the way he was hurt. Since I spent so much of the day with our sons, I had no problem setting the rules since there was still plenty of time left over to spoil them with love. It worked for us.
And as the boys grew, Mike was finally able to view the life of a child who had a loving father. When he would lie down on the floor to watch TV, the boys would jump off their chairs and climb on him. The three of them would wrestle and laugh and I could see an expression wash over him that said “so this is what it was like”.
Whether it was baseball, basketball or soccer, he coached most of the teams they played on. If he wasn’t coaching, he was in the stands cheering. It was never lost on him that he, himself was a pretty good athlete as a youngster, but with a working mother, there was never anyone in the stands rooting for him. That was not going to happen to his sons. He saw to it that we were both there, every step of the way.
Our sons are men now, but great pride and love still shows on his face when one of their names is mentioned. This Father’s Day, the three of them will golf while I prepare our annual seafood feast. Later in the day, they will sit around the table picking lobster while trash talking about which of them played the better round. And at some point during the gathering, I will look across the table and receive a satisfactory wink from the man who fathered our children.
The very same man who at one time was so worried about his ability to be a good father, his ability to set a good example. Well, you have done more than set a good example, Michael, you have set the bar. There is finally someone in the stands watching you....... and I couldn't be more proud.