Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. By choice and preference, I am not a father in the sense that term is used on this day — my “parenthood” of our numerous animal companions, and innumerable lame ideas doesn’t count. But that fact doesn’t hamper my ability to appreciate and honor the many real fathers out here, and I’ll raise a glass to them all tonight.

Including my own father, who made a most surprising phone call to me yesterday — but you’ll need some context to understand why it was surprising.

My parents retired a few years ago to a home they built in south-central New Jersey (I know, I know, that’s direct evidence of some serious mental instability, possibly of a dangerous kind). There are four of us kids; I’m the oldest. Compared to many people I know, I grew up in a “Leave It To Beaver” kind of home — loving, honest, hard-working parents; no divorces, no drunks, no abuse; lots of positive experiences that I look back on now with much gratitude. But my father has never been a demonstrative man — always approachable, enjoying his children’s company obviously and enormously, these things certainly. But he’s always been a little uncomfortable getting a hug from his adult boys, and rarely does a conversation ever touch on an emotionally charged subject. We all knew our father loved us — of this, there was never a smidgen of doubt — but we weren’t likely to hear that very directly.

Well, yesterday my dad gave me a call. He billed it as a “reverse Father’s Day” call and then he said, straight up, that I was a wonderful son, that he was proud of me, and that he loved me. That’s very much out of character for him, which is why I was so surprised. But as I absorbed what he said, and his evident good cheer, I had an intensely emotional moment. Of the very best kind, I think…

I love you too, dad. Happy Father’s Day, from a son who couldn’t be prouder to have you be his father…

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