I had a conversation with my dad the other night. It was a long talk but I don’t remember too many details. I do remember him asking me when I was going to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary, weird. I told him that I would as soon as I got a boat. We ended the conversation on a good note and I woke up a short time later.
Dad passed away about 5 years ago from cancer. He was a good man and I miss him terribly. He and I didn’t always have the best relationship as we butted heads on a regular basis. I’ll even be so bold as to say we just didn’t get along for much of my life. I feel terrible saying such a thing but there it is. He was closer with my brother, they did many things together with me usually tagging along or not participating at all. From what I understand it is not unheard of for a parent to have a favorite. Pretty sure Michael was his. What bothered me the most was the apparent disinterest he showed with me. If I had a new hobby or activity he rarely participated with me alone. I was always Dad and Michael or Dad, Michael…and me. I always felt like an afterthought. We never played catch or did a science fair project together, or any other traditional bonding stuff.
In my formative years I looked to my scoutmasters as father figures. Mostly Mr. Boz and Mr. Cap. They had as much to do with my upbringing as did my own father. Mr. Boz is a big imposing man with a booming voice that could be as soothing as an embrace or as scary as thunder. He taught me the value of honesty, responsibility, and respect. He was a man you didn’t lie to, he commanded respect by his presence alone. Mr. Cap was a walking fire hydrant with a Santa Clause beard. Dude was scary strong, he punched me in the arm for a mis-timed joke once….once. Learned my lesson! I learned charity and humor from him. So many elaborate breakfasts a his house after sleepovers (his son and I are still best friends BTW. No funny stuff!). I will always love them for enriching my life.
For many years I considered them more of a father(s) than my own. Dad was always in my life just not much emotionally. Probably explains my constant want of acceptance. He rarely told me he was proud of me.
…Oh self pity, how you rear your ugly head…
Dad and I started getting close when I got a motorcycle. It was a shared interest we did together. Fixing them, riding them, or just BS’ing about them. I enjoyed that immensely but all too soon he was diagnosed. Things were getting harder for him with the chemotherapy and he declined rapidly. I was with him at his final breath along with my brother, step-sister, and step-mom. It was a terrible sad day but I wouldn’t change it. I’m happy to know he didn’t die alone and was in no more pain. My brother and I escorted him to he crematorium on our panheads, I didn’t cry that day.
As I’ve gotten older, I can look back at all he taught me. How I became the person I am today. I learned so much from him and never realized it. He gifted me with intelligence, mechanical aptitude, and a desire to help anyone who needed it. He didn’t have a passion for one thing, he had a passion for anything. Be it music or motorcycles or boats, he’d get into it and master it. He raced cars, flew airplanes (RC and real), played banjo with a bluegrass/folk group, was a commander in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, hunted, fished. He could fix anything…no really…anything he put his mind to. If he didn’t know how he learned. Never left it to someone else.
I see much of him in the things I do. Including having trouble expressing emotion. I know how hard it is for me to show love and appreciation and maybe he was the same way. Either way, I just wanted him to be proud of me and maybe he was.