For Two Fathers
In reflecting on Fathers Day, I thought about my own dad and my father-in-law. What did I learn from them?
From my father, I learned about sacrifice for the family. My dad was a blue collar worker who worked a regular day job, came home to eat dinner, and then worked many evenings at my uncle's gas station. For years he followed this same routine, which enabled him to move his family out of Chicago and into the suburbs. He never seemed to have many possessions, and frankly, never seemed to have much of a desire for any. I appear to have inherited this. A computer, a television and a car that runs can sustain me for a long time. I am a difficult guy to buy presents for because I don't really want much of anything. I can't really explain it -- it's just the way I am.
Dad died almost ten years ago. I feel so fortunate that his body gave out before his mind, for he had already been suffering from dementia. This past week I visited his grave and took my brother, the King of Komps, who always keeps dad's grave in great shape. Dad would have particularly loved the American flags, for he was a proud WWII veteran.
From my father-in-law, Fred, I learned that faith in God and a positive, selfless attitude can help one cope with almost anything. Fred had a remarkable medical history: heart bypass surgery, brain surgery, and spinal surgery. He had a large family that included many challenges, including a mentally and physically handicapped son and a wife with many medical issues. Yet, through all this, he never squawked, never complained, but just did what needed to be done in a positive manner.
Fred treated me like I was his own son, including inviting me to join the family menfolk on fishing excursions to Canada. One of the last things he did for me and my family was to buy us a dishwasher. He had seen one on sale at a terrific price and was thrilled to buy it for us. He was that kind of guy.
Fred has been gone more than 15 years now. He had terminal blood cancer and faced his final months with courage and dignity.
Both these men were truly loved and are sorely missed. I think of them at times when I have challenges as a father. It helps.
Fatherhood: the greatest non-paying job in the world.