When I see my dad playing with his grandchildren, it takes me back to when I was their age. I can't tell you how many hours we spent in the summer playing catch, throwing pop-ups, and working on batting. We would start right after dinner, getting in front of the grounders and using the brim of my hat to fight off the sun as it slowly set in the distant summer sky. He held the back of my bike for years as I struggled to stay balanced, played games with me, wrestled with me (which always included the "stomach claw"), and tried in vain to keep me interested in fishing. You wonder where I got my singing chops? Look no further than my old man. He is the reason I sing on my own, in the car, or in front of a crowd.
My father and I haven't always seen eye to eye. We've had ups and downs, but as we've reconnected there is an unspoken understanding that we should focus on the future and not dwell on our negative past. He can be a stubborn and ornery ass, but I love him and am lucky to have him. Thanks Pop. Let's play catch soon.
My mother's biological father died in a car crash when she was a teenager, so her step father has always been my grandpa. Always the intellectual, he's often heard quoting Sigmund Freud as if it were common street slang, analyzing current events, and engaging me in adult conversation even when I was eight years old. His greatest gifts to me have been respect and love. Treat someone as you would like to be treated was not just an adage for him, but a lifestyle. Be they janitor or scholar, Grandpa always treated his fellow man and woman as equals. His love for his wife Carmella was and still is amazing. He tells tales of his wife like a giddy newlywed. His "Sparky" was his everything and he is just as devoted to her some sixteen years after her passing as the day they wed. If I come close to being the husband he was to his wife, I will be amazed. Grandpa, you the tops!
I have so much respect for fathers. It's something I may never be and I envy your gift. Here is my advice to you:
- Try to remember all the things your dad taught you or you wish he taught you and make a list. Teach them one thing off the list when they ask or when they say they are "bored and have nothing to do." Then go for a treat. They make the lessons stick.
- Listen when they teach you something because the moment you think you know everything is the moment you don't know anything. Kids are smarter than many adults give them credit for.
- Hug them when you can because you can't make up for missed hugs.
- Let your kids be who they are and learn from their mistakes. It will make them stronger.
- No matter what kind of dad you are, make sure to tell your kids you love them. It makes all the difference.