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DAD


"It's never too late to have a happy childhood," some bumper-sticker author said. I think it is never too late to need Dad.

When we're little, Daddy is in charge of the world as we know it. Yes, I know we have a President, some countries have kings or prime ministers, and there's always God, but they are really not in charge of the world.

Dad knows everything, he can do anything, he is always right, he can always fix things. He's almost like God.

"Hey, Daddy! Where is Helsinki?" My father always replied, "If you put things away where they belong, you would know where they are." "Hey, Daddy! I really need to know about Helsinki." "OK; let's get the encyclopedia."

"Hey, Dad! Can I use the car for a date tonight?" "Yeah. Be home before midnight." Arriving home at 2:30 a.m., Dad was up waiting. We don't understand about love and anger when we're kids. Dads yell and shout, and we don't realize it is because they care; we think it is because they have to be tough. Not this time. He said, "Thank God you're safe. Go to bed; we'll talk about this in the morning."

"Hey, Dad! I got into trouble at school today. I didn't really do anything wrong. That stupid teacher won't listen to me." "I'll listen. What happened?....Is that really what happened?" Next day, Dad is at my school, talking with my teacher, fixing the misunderstanding. He has such power! I can always count on Dad.

When Daddy starts to get old (about the same time as I am 13 years old), he gets really stupid, but he is still in charge of the world. "Hey, Daddy! What's this with boys? Do you know why they are so weird? Were you like this when you were a boy?" Dad pontificates for awhile on the nature of the teen-age human animal and I sort of get the hint that even though he is old (35), he knows about both boys and girls. Some dads even know about such matters as safe sex and child support.

Regardless of what they know (or don't know), they mostly care, and can be counted on to be on your side. When you're a kid, Dads are good for playing basketball in the driveway; Daddies are good audiences for dance recitals.

If we get our foot caught in a bear trap, Dad will free the foot, bind it, and take us to the doctor. Dad doesn't panic; he, being Dad, just automatically knows what to do, and does it. He buries our non-human family members; he fixes the things we break. The small things Dad does for us make us feel valuable and important.

Daddy lectures and pontificates; he is the ultimate authority on everything. He is so totally boring - I hope he doesn't act like such a jerk in front of my friends. If he talks too much, they also will know how stupid he is. Of course, even though he is (during some periods of my life) an utterly stupid nerd, he is not fair game for criticism from others. He is still the best dad there is...

"Hey, Dad! How are you going to vote?" "Not me. I think he's a crook." So argument ensues... Dad is still stupid, but getting a little smarter, and we can listen to him without acknowledging his wisdom.

"Hey, Daddy! Wanna hold the baby for awhile?" Daddy assures his "princess" that her baby is truly a marvel, and "Princess" feels warm and reassured.

"Hey, Dad! Do you have fifty bucks I could borrow?" He does. Even if he doesn't, he will find it or go without something so he will have it. Then he feels embarrassed when we pay him back, and he says, "Naw; you don't have to pay it," but we do because it is important to do the right thing. Dad taught us that.

Whether Dad is a brain surgeon or a gandy dancer, Dad is always there for us. The back-up unit in case of temporary failure. Even when Dad is 80 and maybe forgets sometimes or maybe has little "accidents," he is still in charge of my world. Even when Daddy needs for us to take care of him, he is still Daddy who knows all and who can do everything.

Whether Dad is a rocket scientist or a janitor, he sweat bullets to take care of us, to teach us what is right, and to make sure we had some fun. Dad taught us the true meaning of respect and how to earn it. No matter what career choice we make, Dad will be proud of us. He will do his best to make sure we have the education and/or training we need in order to be able to take care of ourselves and our burgeoning families.

Eventually, Dad goes on, as all living creatures do. It is a loss that is unutterably cruel. It is frightening to envision life without Dad. Even Dads need Dads. The fact that one is 50 or so years old does nothing to diminish the need for Dad.

We can recall sitting in the bleachers at the ball game with Dad - a bonding thing that gruffly says "I love you." Upon achieving majority, we could even have a beer with Dad. We can recall being walloped by Dad and know that it was an act of love. We cherish the time spent with Dad while he taught us the necessary maintenance tasks associated with car ownership. We still capture the feeling that came over us when we saw Dad's face out there in the audience, and he was proud, and he and Mom knew they had created something very special when
they made us.

Dad presides over all festive events. "How is today different from other days?" Of course he knows, and knows how to explain; it is he who takes charge and knows how to do everything; he is the leader, and he is in charge of our world. The Captain of the ocean sea.

Father's Day is kind of an embarrassment to Dad - he is accustomed to being the provider; not the recipient. We honor Dad for being in charge of the world, but Dad somehow is a bit diffident about being the honoree on Father's Day.

Dads don't really leave us when they go. Their spirits inhabit our psyche, and stay with us always. Fortunately, the parting is usually gradual, and sometimes, as when they need our care, we have an opportunity to show our gratitude and our love directly to him. Being aware that it will happen "some day" does not really anesthetize us against the actuality of the event. Emotions cannot be intellectualized, and pain is pain. It is okay to feel pain - to hurt. It is okay to heal, which we always do. It is also okay to become the Dad who knows everything, can do everything, and who is in charge of the world.


 

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