Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

La Belette Rouge had a great post the other day entitled "What I Am Doing this Weekend since my Father Is Dead," and I commented there that
My dad's been gone 8 years this summer and I still get caught with tears occasionally over a movie I think he'd like. In Lisbon last week, I couldn't help thinking how many times he must have visited the city in the 40s (he was a British Merchant Marine before marrying my mom and emigrating) and I regret never having thought to ask him about it so we could compare impressions.
I was so lucky to have had a wonderful father. Although he was very capable of moodiness, impatience, and anger, especially in middle age, he was also patient with us, supportive of my mom, who he adored, fiercely proud and protective of all of us, lively, funny, curious, and above all, a man of huge integrity who lived his morals no matter the cost. He believed absolutely in service and through the last years of his cancer, even as he got down below 120 pounds, he'd bring me tea in bed when I visited, or surprise me with a hot water bottle tucked under the blankets to keep my feet warm on a cold winter night. He managed to delight in the world, pointing out the beauty and fragrance of the flowers mom had brought into his room, even when the morphine was barely doing its job -- once cancer's in the bone, the pain's really a bitch, but he'd still insist on showing us the sparrow's latest batch of fledglings. These are lessons I try to apply in my own life. I miss him, but also feel his presence, often.

And I'm truly blessed to have been able to give my own children a marvellous dad, wise, loving, supportive, firm. I try not to take this for granted because I see many wonderful moms having to manage on their own (or, sometimes, in marriages where they'd do as well to be alone). Paterfamilias also helps me be a better mom, multiplying his contribution to the kids' lives. Like my dad before him (and unlike his own -- also a great father), Paul changed diapers and made meals from day one. Before it was the norm, he'd take time from work to do a stint at the Parent Participation Pre-School or a school outing, altho' this became less possible as his career grew. And while he can be pretty scary when the rules are broken, he's always been so realistic and reasonable about what rules make sense that the kids recognize an authority based on love.

We'll soon be watching another great dad in this family. More on that later. He knows who I mean . . .

9 comments:

  1. Are you going to be a gramma????

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  2. Oh, you're good! No hints for you at Christmas time! Let's just say I'll be checking out your site for all those useful baby bootie and sweater links. More formal news to come. . .

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  3. Your dad sounds wonderful, that's why you married well you know, because of your good role model.
    It sounds like an exciting development is in the works for you!

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  4. You're probably right, Cybill -- I often gasp in retrospective relief at my good fortune in husband choice, given that I married at 21 when who knows anything?!! But having had a good model, I probably weeded out the bad choices without really realizing it.
    And yes, we have some excitement coming our way. . . more news to follow . . .

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  5. Lovely memoir and bouquet to your DH.
    My husband is like that too- totally involved and we had twins.

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  6. Duchesse: Twins! Lucky you have a supportive partner. My sister and my sister-in-law each have twins and I can only imagine how tough it would be to get through those early years, especially, without those extra two helping hands.

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  7. Oh, Materfamilias, this is a really beautiful post and loving tribute to your father and husband. Really touching. Your father sounds like he was a really lovely man.

    Like you, I have an amazing husband, I am not sure how I got so lucky. But, I am aware of just how lucky I am on a daily basis.

    Thanks so much for the shout out. So very kind of you.

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  8. LBR: My dad was really something -- we were lucky. As for the luck, and the husband, as I said to Cybill above, I sometimes freak out a bit thinking of how much luck was with me -- what was I thinking, marrying at 21!
    As for the shout out, more readers should know about your writing!

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  9. Materfamilias: 21? Wow! That is not an age when I was making good decisions. But, you clearly made a great one.

    And to that last line, thanks for that!! Really! It means a lot to me. :-)

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