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Sunday, June 21, 2009

on dads

is it horribly clich├ęd to blog about dads on father's day? i hope not, but even if it is, i'm gonna anyways.

like many of the kids of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, i was exposed to some great dads. you know,

the ever cool-headed ward cleaver from leave it to beaver

pragmatic fatherly jim anderson from father knows best

somewhat scatterbrained, disheveled steve douglas from my three sons

the loveable tom corbett from courtship of eddie's father

the welcoming mike brady from brady bunch.

i even got to hang out with dr. huxtable before i left home

in the early days of fathering (post WWII) dads in real life were busy working—earning a living, providing for their families, making the whole suburbia thing happen. it really wasn't so much about being on equal footing with the wife at home and being super involved with what was going on at home. that's why i think the television shows of the 50s/60s/70s were so popular, because these dads were modeling what the culture was hungry for.


i'm no expert in family dynamics of the post WWII family unit. far from it. what's interesting about my family is that my parents parented for 36 years (cradle of the firstborn to graduation day of the last) and so i feel like my dad fathered during this whole 50s/60s/70s era.


and i know that whatever these dads had, mine wasn't anything like what i saw on tv (but then whose dad is, really?).


well, maybe my dad was sorta on tv. he was no ward cleaver, but more like an archie bunker/

fred flinstone hybrid.

not that this is a combination one should shoot for.


i picture the fred flinstone who used to come home from work, open the front door until it slammed against the rock inside of the flinstone home with a huge BAM!


WILMA, I'M HOME!! (which basically translated to "what's-for-dinner-where-is-my-drink-give-me-the-paper-shaddup-so-i-can-watch-the-evening-news)


this combined with the picture of archie screwing up his face while he spews out a "meathead" or other such verbal put-down. the impatience with anyone who didn't agree with him. the bigotry. the picture of constipation + acid reflux.


don't get me wrong. i had a great dad. i just didn't have the hollywood version of the warm and fuzzy let's-fly-a-kite-go-get-a-new-puppy kind of dad.


my dad traveled a great deal. he was gone almost every week for at least three/four nights away. i didn't realize it at the time, but my mom was pretty much a single parent.


Keeping in touch with dad wasn't so easy, because this was in the days when calling long distance was for emergencies—certainly not for kids to talk to dads but reserved for smoochy talk between spouses.


i remember "kissing" my dad goodnight each evening by jumping from the footstool into his "lap" of his leather chair. i would then launch off the footstool. even when he wasn't there, i would do that. my dad also used to give us these little "whisker kisses" where he would smooch, but swipe his scratchy lip across ours, much to our delight/horror. it was scratchy, but we loved it.


my dad loved his family very much, he just didn't show it the way ward, mike or jim would. he showed us love by working hard and providing. his way of loving equaled stability and comfort for his family. he showed love the way he would pat my mom and kiss her, the way his chin quivered when he walked my sister down the aisle (both in the rehearsal and the real thing), or the way he wiped a tear before hugging me at my college graduation (a real family rarity, the college thing). i loved to watch my dad swell with pride anytime the extended family got together. all his kids were intelligent, employed, contributers to society, and had all given him fabulous grandchildren.


sometimes i used to wish i could ask my dad a million questions like eddie corbett used to ask his dad. or that my dad would take us on camping trips or fun family adventures like mike brady used to do. that my dad would calmly explain discipline to me like ward used to do with wally and the beave. or have wise little nuggets to share by the fireplace like jim would do with his family. or make us understand hard things with humor the way cliff would with his kids.


i actually think my dad made a pretty good dad all on his own. i think he was a far cry from what his dad was to him. my dad wasn't an abusive alcoholic like his own father. he was a loving (in his own way), stable, married for 45 years to the same woman, consistent, strict, hard-working dad. sure he was a "my-way-or-the-highway" kind of guy, but he loved us and stuck around to parent us and loved our mom well.


and last time i checked, ward, jim, cliff, archie and all the rest of the tv dads all went home to their slightly flawed and less-than-perfect families in real life to be the best dads they knew how to be... which more than likely fell far short of the hollywood standard.


my dad was far from perfect, but he was my dad. and i love him just the way he was.

and i thank God that He brought me a wonderful Christian husband who is showing our children how to love the Lord first, and then his family. what a sweet spritual leader God has blessed our family! what a treasure of fatherhood, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. How sweet telling those stories about your Dad. They seem like very fond memories!

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