When I think about my Dad, I mean really ponder all he is now and has been throughout my life, the ability to express my feelings slam shut. Perhaps because he is so complex, and I am not good at expressing how deeply I feel for him.
Gosh Jan, you say “complex” like that’s a negative. Not at all. His love for his family is unconditional, and I have always felt that constancy.
He was my role model for a work ethic that was too strong at times – I learned that one could escape many other concerns and even emotions by digging in harder at work. He worked amazingly long hours as a minister, counselor, life-long learner, educator, writer, musician, and mentor to dozens, if not hundreds, of men who wanted to be just like him. Now at the wonderful, wise age of 83 and all of that amazing work across the world is behind him and still impacting others, he wants to continue to work – to be active to continue giving, to make his life count every second. We (OK, I) want him to write an exposé on the behind-the-scenes doings/dirt on the religious world in which I grew up. Certainly not all was dirt or he would have never stayed. He is truly virtuous. I want him to compose more music. I hope that gift and inspiration did not die along with my Mom.
Although I have 3 sibs, for the first 8 years of my life, it was just Dad, Mom, and me. I went everywhere with them, and he could not stand to be ANYWHERE without us. Dad worked hard then, but the demands on his time were not as great. He taught me to read, write, and do math at an early age – I loved those hours together. He taught me to play baseball and throw a perfect spiral football. No one delighted more in my athletic endeavors early on than Dad. He taught me to fish. I still experience fishing as one of the most serene activities on earth, but now I just take a pole and sit, not wanting to kill or hurt the fish. He taught me the love of family, instilled the gift (or curse?) of altruism, allowed me to develop my own spiritual path, and waited for my Mom to tell him that I was gay. He loves Sue like a daughter, and they are so alike that it took them a while to become true friends.
This Father’s Day he is in Dallas; I am Tucson. As usual my Father’s Day gift and card will arrive late (procrastination and the adrenaline surge that it provides is another gift from Dad). It’s hard for me to tell him that I love him just because he rarely used those words – his actions were enough. After Mom died last year, I asked him to take over her telephone role of saying, “I love you.” He forgets at times, and I am stubborn enough to wait him out. Maybe I’ll turn it into a race to see who can say “I love you” the quickest as we end our phone conversations. I learned to be competitive from him also.
I love you Dad.