Wisdom of the ages

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, and my crew and I will head off to a big family gathering to spend Father’s Day with my Grandfather, and, coincidentally, my own dad will be there, too.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll keep saying it, but growing up and growing older really does give you different perspective on life. I feel almost apologetic to my father for all of those failures and shortcomings that are in my past. I mean, knowing what I know now and all…

If only I’d listened.

Well, there’s the rub. Fathers find themselves in kind of a no-win situation as a parent. Mothers are the ones who are nurturing and all of that, and fathers are, well, there to just offer advise and that wisdom. And somehow, even thousands of years of evolution and moves toward gender equality and all of that haven’t changed anything there. And because kids are kids, they don’t listen. So a father’s wisdom, gathered through decades of his own struggles go unheard.

Knowing what I know now, I really want to go back to my younger self and just slap me around. I’ve done some really stupid things that I deeply regret, and I’d bet that my father probably warned me against it somehow, and probably on multiple occasions. But I didn’t listen, and did it anyway. And now, I find myself probably doing the same frustrated muttering and head shaking with my own son that my dad probably did with me.

Is that what parenting is all about? Finally learning the truths to life when half of it is already gone?

Ah, but back to the fathers I’ve been around in my life…My grandfathers were both very wise men, in their own way–they’re storytellers, with quick wits and affable manners. To this day, I carry with me one particularly sage piece of advice I got from my Grandpa Willie: shortly after I had my first major incident with a car (not an accident, but needing either to get a new one or sink money into the beater I had at the time, he said “Paul, there are two things in this world that will always give you trouble: cars and women.” And, through the fog of time, I remember fishing outings with my Grandpa Newt, and his inate ability to find lost tools along rural highways–honestly…Once, we were driving about 60 mph out of Sioux Falls to go fishing out west of town somewhere, and all of a sudden, he slams on the brakes in the middle of this two-lane highway, and backs up about 100 feet, opens the door, reaches down, and picks up a screwdriver. It sat on the seat between us for the rest of the day, and he regarded it with great pride because, as he pointed out quite a few times as he looked it over during the drive, it was almost brand new.

My father is, and forever will be, an academic. And I never appreciated it nearly as much as I should have until I was in college, and that appreciation has only grown over the years. I wouldn’t know half of the stuff I do without his example. He’s a brilliant man, and wildly creative. While I didn’t inherit a whole lot of the creativity, he’s helped inspire it, and at least some of his artistic talent seems to have passed on to my kids. His wisdom has served me very well in my career–learning to research and find information, and to have a passion to ask and find out why things are the way they are. I got his offbeat sense of humor, and probably a large degree of my desire to just be left alone. But here approaching my 42nd year, I can proudly say that I’m starting to figure out what some of that wisdom meant, and I hope I’m following the path that wisdom guides you down.

Thanks to all of my father figures out there. Love you all.

See you tomorrow.



, ,