Vignettes of a good father
When I was really little, I used to sit in my father’s den and look at all of the books on the shelves. There were so many, vaguely organized by topic. Formal hardback biographies, business books, historical records, economic textbooks, and sheepishly double-stacked sci-fi paperbacks.
On Saturdays, Dad took my little brother Steve and I to Starbucks, the library, and then McDonald’s. One time, at McDonald’s I opened the Wall Street Journal and told my father that I was surprised Disney stock wasn’t on the rise, since their new movie, The Lion King, was going to be a real hit. My Dad still recalls how a stranger asked if I was really reading the stock sheets. When my Dad nodded the man asked, “Does she have any other tips?”
When I was nine, my family rented a hut in Hua Hin, Thailand and it was the first time any of us had seen a gecko. Dad wanted to smush it with a shoe but when he saw my and my brother’s faces, he chased it out the front door instead.
When we visited Uncle Tim, my brother Steve would look at his garage full of tools and zippy little sportscar and big, rugged dog. I think he was wondering why Dad didn’t have any of those “manly” things. But Steve inherited my father’s analytical mind and is putting it to good use.
My mother tells me that Dad proposed to her during finals week. She was trying to study and he was giving her a long-winded speech about the economics of utility and started saying how love is the condition of another’s happiness being essential to their own. She told him she had to study, not talk about utility functions, but he continued and proposed.
I now realize he was quoting Robert Heinlein.
My Dad shares a birthday with Mick Jagger, though Mick Jagger was born many years earlier. In college, my father took a career aptitude test that said he should be a rockstar. Now, I think Dad looks to Mick and Keith Richards as guides on how to continue being badass after 50.
I went to Wittenberg University because my father recommended I read a few books about the value of a liberal arts education. It was exactly the right choice for me — when I fell into depression my senior year, the school’s warm faculty understood and even helped. Mom and Dad brought me home for a year and I finished my degree by transferring credits from my Dad’s new university — Radford.
Never rob a bank or shoot a postman, Dad would tell us. Those are federal crimes and you’ll end up in prison. Knock over a gas station or something instead. And Mom would roll her eyes and ask if that was the advice he wanted to be known for? “Never put anything in writing, either.” he would conclude.
I’ve listened to most of my father’s advice over the years, but maybe not that last part.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.