So after gooshing all over the blog for Mother’s Day, I had a similar post planned for Father’s Day. But between working, training, and preparations for our US trip, I didn’t ever actually write the post, anywhere other than in my head. My Dad, the gracious (and forgetful!) guy that he is may not have even noticed, but my oversight has been bothering me for the past month.But – BUT – today is his birthday. And I can think of no better way to (try to) make up for that – and the fact that our gift to him won’t be arriving on time (sorry, Dad) – than by writing a Birthday/Father’s Day combo post right now. Besides, you must all be tired of training updates anyway, no?
So: Dad. His material ‘wants’ are incredibly simple: comfortable shoes, a nice big mug for his tea, and his iPad or a crossword puzzle. Since his retirement a few years ago, he is perfectly happy living a slow-paced, uncomplicated life. I will probably never live life at his pace – but when my world feels like it’s close to spinning out of control, I think of Dad. I think of what’s most important, of concentrating on one task, and of slowing down.
My Dad taught me to care for other people with my actions: Not with grand gestures, but by doing small, every day things. Dad fills his days caring for the house, yard, and “buggies” (cars); planning and preparing meals; playing guitar; and doing crosswords. He works in an unhurried way and with singular focus. If I call on Thursday morning, I know he’ll tell me that he’s cleaning the downstairs. On Friday, the upstairs, so that things are spic-n-span for my Mom, for the weekend. He doesn’t think of these so-called chores as good or bad – they are just the things that he will do. He doesn’t dislike doing them – in fact, he actually enjoys doing them, as a way to help, respect, and love my (not-retired) Mom.
He finds value and purpose in these daily tasks – as well he should. When I start feel exasperated that the daily household tasks fall primarily to me in my marriage right now (this is a practical, not gender, issue – KMN can wield a toilet brush quite handily) – I think of my Dad. His example reminds me that maintaining a house is a labor of love – and just one of many ways I can show my love for my husband and family.
Dad brought music into my world, early and often. As far back as I can remember, there was always music playing in the house. “Spinning 45s” was a legitimate Saturday afternoon activity of my youth – often accompanied by the gymnastics mat and impromptu performances by my sister and I. Long before the days of digital music, we (mostly my Mom, really) bought him a 99 disc CD changer – probably the most thoroughly-used gift ever. He loved filling all 99 slots, then setting it to “DJ Random”. And random it was! My Dad has a taste for music of all kinds, from classic rock to Weird Al to rap – as long as it has a good beat, it’s on his playlist. My father is the reason that, when I was a kid, riding in a car with a friend’s family, I could sing virtually whatever came on the radio. “You know this song?” was a common question of my childhood. [Well, duh – of course I do. That’s how I can sing along with it….] He’s also probably the reason that I spent 16 years playing the clarinet, why I can clap on the 1/3 beats OR the 2/4 beats, and how I managed to find – and spin on – the beat well enough to pass my RPM Instructor Training.
My Dad, who taught middle-school math for his entire career, also shared his love for numbers with me. Square One TV was pretty much the only show that my sister and I watched as children, and to this day, we can recite portions of Mathnet (and sing the Fantastic Number 9 song). Our household delighted in palindromes and “stand-on-your-head-indromes”. In fact, he was a data nerd before me, too. Dad was the one who kept a weeks-long tally of the songs that came up on “DJ Random”, to find out if the random setting on the 99 disc CD changer really was random. Was this some crazy foreshadowing of the many yeast colonies I counted/tallied during my PhD…?
My Mom was – and remains – the dynamic, go-get-em figure in our nuclear family. For a large portion of my life, I was 100% my mother’s daughter – in fact, I was a more intense version of my mother. But watching my father over the last 6 years has inspired me to grow into my own mixture of both of my parents: To practice being thoughtful and patient. To remember that perceived slights are usually just that – perceived. To think first and speak slowly (still working on this). To sometimes let my actions speak, without any words at all.
And although he’s not the big, effusive cheerleader that my Mom can be, I know his love for and faith in me is unwavering. He delights in the “Marimba” music that signals an incoming FaceTime call (always from me). He asks about every race KMN & I run, and researches the details better than we do, sometimes. He’ll talk paces and splits and times with me ad nauseum (he’s not a runner). And if ever there was a doubt, this is the song he chose for our Father/Daughter dance:
“See the moon roll across the stars
See the seasons turn like a heart
Your father’s days are lost to you
This is your time here to do what you will do.
Your life is now, your life is now, your life is now
In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now.”
-Your Life Is Now, John Mellencamp
Does your family (*ahem*Dad*ahem*) have its own code, like ours does (“buggy”, “shed”, “DJ Random”)??
Anyone else out there raised on Square One TV? Mathnet? Kate’s Bum Wheel? 1-1-2-3-5, Eureka! Come on, the blog-o-sphere is a big place. Anyone?