Sunday, June 19, 2022

Four Father

As much as my father and I differ in our beliefs, there are still many traits that I know I have either inherited from or learned from him. This revelation usually comes after I have performed a particular action that triggers the thought: "Oh, this is exactly what dad would do." And, since today is Father's Day, I thought what better way to honor my father than by sharing those particular traits.

After all, my parents have always been rather insistent that we not get them money or gifts for the various holidays that are meant to honor them, like Father's Day. It's difficult, because I want to celebrate them, but I also want to respect their wishes. Often times I have gotten around this little stipulation by falling back on my own skills: writing.

So here I am.  Writing the four ways that I am like my father in celebration of Father's Day:

1. The way we tell stories.
My dad may not be a writer, but he definitely has a love of sharing stories.  If you ask him about a relative or a location, he'll talk for quite awhile about his memories of the person or place and what it meant to him.  Sometimes he'll even tell you multiple times without prompting.  I have found myself doing the same thing: repeating stories to people I have already told them to multiple times.  

However, I also have found myself more and more writing about my memories of relatives and locations as a way to capture those moments forever.  I didn't put it together before now, but I believe my love of writing stories stems from the same love that my dad has for telling stories.

2. The way we find humor in things.
One of my dad's common sayings (Jerry-isms?) is that he is a "fun loving and jovial" person.  While the rest of my family may not always agree with this assessment, I will say that there are times when dad can be quite funny.  Sure, he may tell some of the same jokes over and over and over (just like his stories), but I can hardly fault him for that...because I do it do.  

However, the real reason I included this trait was I wanted to comment on his love of puns and jokes that would make you groan.  It may be a dad cliché (a daché?), but it's true. I can't remember what I said exactly, but there was an exchange I had with mom once where I made a joke and immediately we looked at each other and agreed that it was the same kind of joke dad would make had he been with us in the room (side note: I don't remember where he was at the time either).  Yes, puns fall under the category of typical dad jokes -- but I'm not a dad and tend to tell the same kind of jokes, so it can't be just a dad thing.

3. The way we show love through action.
I remember growing up and finding my dad out of the house most Saturdays as he visited both his mom and my mom's parents to mow their lawns.  In more recent years, if I ask where dad is sometimes I'm told he's gone over to one of my aunt's or a neighbor's house to help with some kind of maintenance issue or a project.  My dad lives to help others using the skills he has and that is one of many ways he shows that he cares about others.

It was as I was driving to help a friend organize and sort their stuff that I realized it was the exact sort of thing my dad would do.  He's a helper and he's at his best when he is involved in a project that makes someone's life just a little bit easier.  If I hear someone talking about a problem, one of the first things I will often say is "How can I help?"  As I drove to my friend's house, I realized that this must be another trait I inherited from my dad.  He is always helping others, often not because they asked him to, but because he has stepped up to do something that is in his ability to do.

4. The way we leave our coffee to grow cold.
This fourth category mainly started as a joke.  When I am visiting home, it's not uncommon to find a cup of coffee abandoned somewhere with no drinker to be found.  My mom and I will usually laugh and remark how dad will be back for it eventually.  However, it was this past school year that I often found myself doing the same thing in the classroom.  One minute I would be sipping my coffee, the next I was wrapped up in helping students with their writing and I would not be able to return to my coffee until it was much too cold.  

The only person I can think of that does this same thing is my dad.  One minute he is sipping his coffee, the next he is starting his next project or looking for a picture he misplaced because he recalled a memory he wants to share with the rest of us.  Before you know it, he's started cleaning the bedroom and mom and I are left to sip and chat our coffee without him.

But, as I write this, I realize it's not necessarily just a quirky trait we have.  It ultimately connects with number three above.  Because we are helpers, we also both suffer from the problem of getting so caught up in others that we often don't take time for ourselves.  The abandoned coffee cup is the tangible proof of that, but I can already think of others.  Like how my dad will often work himself to exhaustion to get projects and work done around the house.  I am not quite at that extreme, but I certainly like to finish a project once it's been started as opposed to putting it off to finish another time.  Perhaps I've learned from his mistakes on that one.

In the end, I am glad I share these traits with my dad.  It's reassuring to know that as I engage in these behaviors -- whether it's accidentally letting my coffee get cold, helping others in need, telling bad puns, or stories -- that I'll always have a little part of him with me.

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