It occurred to me, in going back through the records of my posts, that I have written a special piece in honor of Mothers' Day, but not a similar post for Fathers' Day. In retrospect, I realize this is not right. We wouldn't have mothers without fathers, after all, and vice versa. Somebody has to work in design and someone in production, after all. So let's take a few minutes and think about fathers, shall we?
It is said that any man can be a father, but that it takes someone special to be a daddy. I think this is true, although I say it at the risk of being accused of personal horn-blowing. Being a parent in general - and a father in particular - is not a trivial task. You are responsible for shaping and guiding a brand new human being, and the lessons you teach and the example you set can shape the future in ways you may never know. One wonders, for instance, about the lessons taught and the examples set by the respective fathers of, say, Adolf Hitler and the Dalai Lama.
Fathers often get a bad rap and, sadly, that bad rap is often justified. Many children grow up in single-parent homes because it's the father - not the mother - who has decided that parenthood is much less fun than hot and sweaty sex and decides to go off in search of more fun and less responsibility. There is a term for men like this, but because I try to keep this blog more or less PG-rated, we'll skip it for the moment.
Despite what the current politically correct opinion would have you believe, I think it's critically important for a child to grow up with both a mother and a father, for there are life lessons and attitudes that can only be imparted by one or the other. After all, nature designed us to be the sum of two parts - one male and one female - and until we start reproducing asexually*, there's going to be a role in our children's lives for both a mother and a father.
The gold standard for fatherhood is my own dad, now 89 years old and slowed down by the accumulated weight of age and the stroke he suffered a few years ago. He ran a business, raised four children and lost one, and set the example that I have tried (with admittedly mixed success) to emulate.
This was Dad as the manly stud who took on Nazi Germany from the air as a B-24 crewman in 1944 ...
And this is Dad with my sister Lisa and I this past Memorial Day weekend up in Pittsburgh ...
I think you can tell what a strain it was raising us and our other two brothers ... mostly the other two brothers.
On this Fathers' Day, take a few minutes to think about your father. If you were lucky enough to have a good father, as I did, you can appreciate the incredible gifts he gave you ... in my case, lessons on the importance of honesty, good manners, hard work, and fair treatment for everyone, and a love of really good jokes.
The next generation of fathers is raising a new generation of children who will need all their wisdom and love to cope with a world that is radically - and frighteningly - different from the one in which I grew up. My son Jason and son-in-law Vin are raising five (with a sixth on the way!) of the world's most wonderful grandchildren, and doing a very fine job of it.
To all you fathers out there - John, Mike, and all the rest, Happy Fathers' Day! Someday, the children you fought with for so many years will thank you, and your reward will be beautiful grandchildren.
Have a good day. Call or visit your Dad. More thoughts tomorrow.
* And what fun would THAT be?