Fathers Day — one of the those wonderfully commercial, utterly insincere, Madison Avenue contrived holidays — is coming up in a few weeks, but it will be a little different for me this year because my dad passed away last week.I hope I don’t sound maudlin this morning. I was very lucky. My dad, a genuinely good guy if I do say so myself, was fortunate enough to live a great life, well into his 80’s.
Since his passing though, I’ve started to think about the things that were never said. My dad was born on October 31, 1928. Just in time for Halloween and just in time for the Great Depression.Like a lot of men of his generation, he wasn’t naturally inclined toward “caring and sharing.” He came of age in the “pre-Oprah” era, so while we talked a good bit, those conversations were usually limited to the world of politics, the Phillies, the Eagles, the woeful Sixers, and all things Notre Dame.
In hindsight, I wish I had asked him about his favourite books and movies. I wonder what his great fears and frustrations were. Was there a particular decision that he later regretted? Were there times when he felt inadequate or less than courageous? That failure to understand was mine, and perhaps it was just a case of my own profound lack of curiosity.
At times, parents may seem like wallpaper; they are pleasant enough, of course, but they are almost invisible, hovering out there on the edge of reality. They are a part of the daily drama of life, but theirs is usually a supporting role. They may give you a ride, slip you a few bucks, or offer an occasional, unsolicited piece of advice, but especially as you go through adolescence, they seem to recede more and more beyond the sidelines.
If I had a little more time, I’d ask my dad more and better questions, questions about his past, about what had shaped him, and about what was important to him, about whom he admired and why. I think that he might have appreciated my interest, and I may have had a better understanding of him as a result.
Anyway, with Father’s Day coming up soon, rather than a spiffy tie, you might consider giving your dad, or the man who plays a father-like role in your life, the gift of some time and some genuine interest. That “curiosity, imagination, and passion” line from the mission statement is something that might serve us all well in life far beyond the IB.