With the birth of my first child, I've been giving a lot of thought lately about what it means to be a Father. When I honestly think about it, it scares the crap out of me. I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm supposed to be responsible for this other human being. I'm supposed to teach him right from wrong, yet I still make wrong choices daily. And I'm supposed to teach him what it means to be a man, when I'm not sure what it means to be one yet myself.
With all these fears and anxieties, I am extremely thankful for the example that my Dad has been to me. I know my Dad is not perfect (and I've defnitely given him enough grief over the years about that fact), but I really think that my Dad was just about the best Father anyone could be. So often today, kids don't have a father figure in their lives. I consider myself lucky that my Dad has always been there for me when I needed him. There are so many things that my Dad has done for me over the years that I am grateful for. In tribute, I'm going to share a few stories about my Dad and how he has shaped my life.
Hotdogs: Those of you who know me personally all know that I love hotdogs (I've been described as somewhat of a hotdog snob). But few probably know why I love them so much. My mom works third shift at the local hospital as a nurse. When we were younger, she'd typically work Saturday nights. This left my Dad to be in charge of Sunday lunches most weeks. My dad, being the gourmet chef that he is, would typically just boil up some hotdogs. The frequency of hotdogs caused my brother and sister to hate them growing up, but for some reason, I looked forward to it every week. Today, I rarely eat a hotdog without thinking about my Dad and his Sunday lunches.
Winter: Growing up, the thing that our family always did was snowmobile. During the summer, we rarely did much of anything. But during the winter, every other weekend we'd be driving up north to go snowmobiling. When we were younger, it was a family ordeal. But as we got older, it ended up being a time where my Dad, my brother, and I would spend together. During my teenage years, we would go for week long snowmobile trips across the U.P., snowmobiling from hotel to hotel. Looking back, these were some of the happiest experiences of my life, and I really think that I am as close as I am to my Dad today because of these trips. In the past few years, because of my employment situation, I haven't been able to go along on these trips any more. It defnitely made me realize how much I loved the trips and the time I got to spend with my Dad and my brother because of them. Thankfully, this year I might be able to go along again.
Mr Fix-It: I honestly think that my Dad knows how to fix, or could figure out how to fix, almost anything. Somewhere in the genetic code, this trait was lost in my DNA, but I am so grateful that my Dad has this trait. When I turned 16, I got a 1993 Buick Regal. I ended up owning this car for just shy of ten years. In that time, the car had been totaled and brought back to life. At the end of its life, the car was having some serious electrical issues. We couldn't ever figure out if it was the alternator, the battery, or something in between. But whatever it was, it would cause the car to die and leave me stranded in random places. On one specific instance, I was getting dinner before I had to go to class. While in the drive-through, my car decided to give out. I managed to get my car out of the drive through and parked in a sketchy neighborhoood. I had to leave it there and walk the mile or two to campus. I had to make it to class because I had a test that night. On the walk to class, I called my Dad and asked him whether I should get a tow truck or not. He said that he would drive the 45 minutes to where my car had died and check it out for me. I went to class, took the test, and expected to have my wife come pick me up. But when I got out of the test, I found out that my Dad waiting in the parking lot with my car ready to go. While taking my test, my Dad had changed out the alternator and jumped my car all on the side of a road.
Trips to the Hardware store: When I was really little, my Dad would take me along on Saturday morning trips to the hardware store. I remember walking up and down the aisle's with him looking at all the nuts, bolts, and tools. And on the ride there and back, I remember listening to the radio (Ranger Bill, Warrior of the Woodland). I don't know why, but memories of those trips have stuck with me through the years. I think it just proves that some of the simplest things are the most important. It didn't really matter what we were doing. It just meant the world to me spending time with my Dad.
I hope someday that my son will have silly memories like these to share about me. If I do half a good a job as my Dad did, I think I'll be doing all right.