Jen’s Gem: Treasure the pearls of wisdom you receive from your father.
This year marks the 70th Father’s Day my dad will celebrate. I suspect however, that this one will be much different than that first one where my eldest brother propelled him into fatherhood. Back then, with his whole life in front of him, I wonder if he could foresee all that he’d accomplish or the lives he’d touch.
In 1947, the role of a dad was to support a family. Moms stayed home with the kids. At least that’s how it was in my family. In my childhood, my father held down three jobs. He was a music teacher, a member of a band and for a time owned his own business. The responsibilities of raising six kids fell mostly upon my mom. My siblings and I still wonder how she did it.
I don’t have a lot of memories of spending time with my father as a young girl. He was always there for the big stuff of course but day-to-day? That was my mom. My memories of time with my dad are mostly as a young woman and adult.
I remember going to see him sing and play in his band, watching him conduct his middle and high school jazz bands, driving to and from college and him dropping me off in Connecticut for my first job. Our conversations were always rich and peppered with pearls of wisdom – many times shrugged off by me since clearly I knew better. It’s only now that I can see how right he was about so many things.
Crossword puzzles, cards and conversations dotted my own parenting years. We’d struggle to find the 7-letter word for that innocuous clue, sometimes having to rely on a Google search to complete the puzzle. My children and I would witness his shrewd card-playing skills and chuckle as he’d say “ooo – that’s a good card” when he’d pick up from the deck. I would listen attentively as he’d share his advice on whatever parenting challenge I was experiencing. This advice nearly always ended with – “it’ll be alright’.
Much of who I am I owe to my dad. He valued family above all else, education and following your passions. He was a bit of a risk-taker and a shrewd businessman. He was musically gifted and shared his gift with more people than I can count. His legacy is solid and no matter how many more Father’s Days he has left, he will be forever remembered by those whose lives he touched.
Today, there are no more crossword puzzles or cards or conversations. There’s no more advice to be shrugged off. No more gigs to attend. In fact, next week when we visit him, there may not even be a recognition of who I or my children are. The days of trading sarcastic jabs or sharing a glass of wine are also long gone. These memories however are fresh in my mind despite being erased in his.
I’m grateful that the boatload of memories of time with my dad occurred when I was an adult. Childhood memories can be so fleeting and unreliable, but those in more recent years are forever etched in my mind. Even better are the solid memories my kids have of my dad. Funny, smart, caring but firm. His praise of their accomplishments in and out of school was sincere and I pray they remember how proud he was of them.
I wish I would’ve shared my blogs with my dad. I wish he could’ve read about the many times I wrote about him and his influence on my life. I wish that I could tell him that after many starts and stops, I’m doing the thing I love best – writing. I wish…
As I witness more and more of the man I still call ‘Daddy’ slip away, I will always be grateful for those pearls of wisdom he shared with me. I will pull them out when I face a tough situation and rest easier knowing that in the end, no matter what, ‘it’ll be alright’.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy. Thanks for the memories.