Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers' Day, 2008

It’s tough to be a parent, but it can be especially tough to be a father.

You have to be a fountain of wisdom, knowing your children will think of you as an overbearing know-it-all. You have to be firm and set rules, knowing your children will condemn you as a heartless tyrant. Should your marriage end in divorce, you are unlikely to get custody of your children. And you will eventually be told that everything you did to raise your children was wrong, everything you know is out of date, and you have completely screwed up your children’s lives.

That’s what you get for being the Dad.

Fathers get respect once a year: on Fathers’ Day. This is the day we think about Mark Twain’s famous observation that “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”

My father will be 85 years old in December. He lived through the Great Depression and World War II, raised four children and buried one, and sent three of us to college. He worked hard, but always had time for us. He can build or repair or do just about anything (although I really hated some of those haircuts he gave us). And he tells great jokes (well, I think they’re great, anyhow),

Dad’s mechanical and artistic skills went to my brothers; my sister and I got our Mother’s verbal and literary skills instead. We all share the family sense of humor. If you think I’m bad, you should see us all together. Or maybe not.

On this Fathers’ Day, I just want to take a moment to reflect on the lessons I learned and the person I grew into from watching the finest man I’ve ever known…even when I wasn’t smart enough to realize it at the time. All I am that’s good, I owe to him. All that’s … well … not so good, that’s my own doing. I’d like to think I’m half the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather that Dad has been to all of us.

I don’t think anyone ever expressed love for a father any better than Dan Fogelberg in the last two verses of his wonderful song The Leader of the Band -

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go.
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough,
And Papa, I don't think I said
"I love you" near enough.

The leader of the band is tired

And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul.
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man -
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.

To the leader of our band, and to all fathers everywhere: happy Fathers’ Day. There’s no better title than “Father,” and none harder to live up to. Good luck.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



KKTSews said...

Always loved that song.
I remember you shaking your head and wondering if Mini would make it to age 12, or if YOU would survive it. Such humor, and the doting GF you've become, shows you've indeed followed your role model. Enjoy YOUR day.

John said...

Happy Father's Day, Bilbo

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Happy Father's Day, Bilbo, hope your day is a good one :)

Mike said...

BILBO FOR FATHER! Wait ... You've already won that contest. Well, here's hoping your kids think your smart someday.

Amanda said...

Happy Father's Day Bilbo! I hope you had a great day.