I am a dad and will get to be, physically, with part of my family today and psychically with the other part of my family. My father was born in 1896 and was some 44 years old when I was born, so he was much older than the typical father. My recollections of childhood are probably quite different from most people my age simply given that I was part of my dad’s second family.
My dad was a strict disciplinarian and I can remember some of the spankings I received since I was a kid who seemed to have a longer learning curve in some ways. But I did not ever feel like I was unwanted. I cannot help but think about children who are in such situations and have virtually no hope of that changing.
My father was a man of many accomplishments. He was a saxophone player in a Saturday night dance band. He was a professional wrestler until his ankle was badly fractured in a match somewhere in Ohio. He was a coal miner. He was an undertaker. And, he was a cheesemaker. He was also an amateur pilot who received his pilot’s license at the age of about 54. He owned a Cessna 120 that lived in a farmers’ field between Viroqua and Westby, WI. Every once in awhile, the cows would’ve gotten back into that pasture area after we took off, and would have to be ‘buzzed’ to frighten them off enough to permit us to land. They probably didn’t give much milk in the evening milking after that experience.
He taught me the value of one’s word. He taught me that nothing much good happened to you if you didn’t work hard to make it happen. He had some not-so-good habits that made me a better person since I don’t have those habits, at least not to the degree he had them. He taught me the difference between right and wrong, and sometimes those ‘teachings’ made my little butt sore, but I still remember the lessons.
Too many children today have no father figure in their homes for whatever reason, be it divorce, drugs, jail or early death. And that lack of a strong father figure shows in our crime statistics, our prison population, the number of drug-using young people, and on and on.
I was fortunate to grow up in a time when there was discipline in the home. I made that a hallmark in my own home but without ‘the rod’ and more through words that left a memory than being struck. Our children may have their own recollections about me as a father but I don’t believe those memories will include too many spankings; maybe a swat on the butt to get his or her attention, but there was not a need for anything beyond that.
Children today without a family unit have some really tough learning curves and face difficulties that simply were not part of the world in which I grew to adulthood. One answer is faith in God, no matter how trite that may sound to some. Try it; you might find you like it is a phrase that comes to mind.
And Happy Fathers’ Day!