When I was little, when we lived in Campbellville surrounded by cornfields with our gravel driveway and creaky metal swing-set my dad could jump over picnic tables and kick a soccer ball so high in the air it would be just a little dot. Every Father’s Day I want to write something, but I never do. It’s hard to say things.
Let’s give it a try.
My dad didn’t let us win at games. I think he found it funny how angry we got every time he scored a goal or delivered a checkmate.
At night I would wake up to his Vaseline-gobbed pinky stretching my nostrils for fear that I couldn’t breathe. And he wouldn’t let me wear my Superman cape to bed in case I choked. To this day I can’t think of I time where I’ve visited and he doesn’t ask me if I can breathe at night.
He would re-enact his army stories with our G. I. Joes.
Taking a cue from Solomon, he ripped my rubber Spider-Man in half to share with my brother when Jordan was convinced and vocal that it belonged to him. Jordan’s Spider-Man was later discovered behind the washing machine.
When we’d jump into his bed in the morning he’d talk to us with his feet, falsetto-voiced Serbian feet that we’d pry apart as they’d argue with each other.
My dad was convinced that my pet lizards were disease ridden and one winter afternoon I arrived home to find their tank in the backyard, lizards frozen solid. Apparently they were “already dead” when put outside.
The spectrum of my memory ranges from that guy jumping picnic tables and coaxing people to touch his biceps to the gray-haired man who needs help operating the printer… and digital camera… and cell phone… and who coaxes people to touch his biceps.
I should mention that last time I fixed his printer it wouldn’t work because it was full of change. I didn’t ask any questions. We can all make our own conclusions.
I feel blessed to have been raised by a dad who put us kids first, always. When he coached my soccer team and I was chasing butterflies and picking dandelions instead of playing defense there must have been some dashed hopes of having a world-class athlete son. But I know that all he ever wanted was the best for me, a chance to grab every or any opportunity, to cultivate in me the character to make the most of my life. The same high hopes, aspirations and dreams that I’ll have for my own kids when I have them.
And his legacy is a part of me. I’ve been thinking about it because of Father’s Day, about leaving a legacy. And although I certainly didn’t inherit any athletic ability, so much of who I am and how I think has been molded by my dad: my sense of humour and love for nature and my well-developed calf muscles.
And the thing is, when it’s my turn to raise my own family, I have a lot to work with, to draw on. Very little to discard other than a couple of dead lizards and a gob of Vaseline.
That’s what I think about Father’s Day.