In the year after my dad died, as part of my grieving, I wrote this book. I’ve waited to make it public for many reasons. But now, more than 11 years later, I want to share it. My dad was a good man. I want you to know about him and his influence. I hope you enjoy.
There are lots of things that are mysterious about dads to their young sons. One of the most mysterious things about dads is mothers. A kid can’t quite figure out why dad is so loyal to this woman. I mean, she’s great and everything, makes fine meals and cookies, but what’s the deal with her being so great?
Unfortunately, there are probably few sons who think this about their dads. Most marriages today do not reflect my dad’s marriage. My parent’s marriage was not perfect because neither my mom nor my dad were perfect. But any man or woman would have loved to have had a marriage as good as theirs.
“Be nice to your mother” is another one of those phrases I will always remember my dad saying to me. It’s not that I was horrible to my mother, but I did have my moments. When becoming a man, a boy pulls away from his mother, almost despises femininity in order to grasp masculinity. I used words to hurt my mother.
I remember several instances where I got my mom crying with just a few words. I can’t say I set out to make her cry, nor did I enjoy making her cry, but there was some kind of pull there to separate us. It’s not excused but it was part of the process of growing. My dad had to remind me to be nice to my mother.
My dad used to tell my sister and I that your mom is the queen of this house, she is to be treated with respect. Kids forget that sometimes. Kids take mom for granted, eat her suppers, wear the clothes she washes and mess up the floor she cleaned. Mothers come across as servants. My dad tried to fix that notion! “We all live in this house so we will all do our part to take care of it. It is not your mom’s job to be your servant.”
As much as I tried to understand that, it was tough to actually apply. I could never quite figure out how mom was more special to dad than me! But she was and I had to deal with it. Mom and dad were very different yet united. They were a united front and my sister and I were never able to play one off the other or manipulate them. They knew what we were doing.
My mom had an uncanny ability to hear things. They talked to each other and agreed on how to discipline, spend money, everything. I didn’t always hear these talks but looking back I know they did. There was no way they could be that agreed on things without talking.
If you were to ask either of them if they ever had a fight they would say no. They never argued, so goes the story. I remember things a bit differently. Like I said, my mom and dad are human. I will give them this, they didn’t argue much. But I do remember several instances.
One took place on vacation. Several years ago I asked them both if they remembered this and they both denied it vehemently. I remember it like it was yesterday! Perhaps the reason it stood out so much to me is that it was so unusual.
We were at Glacier National Park and as I recall, my mother was hungry. My mom would sometimes hint at being hungry without actually saying she wanted to eat. She dropped one of these hints and my dad tried to find her a place to eat.
We were in a national park in the middle of the mountains. You either ate at the incredibly priced national park restaurants or you stopped at some po-dunk gas station and ate Doritos. He parked in front of a restaurant in the park and was prepared to go feed his wife, meeting her needs. She protested, she didn’t want to eat there. You only have so many choices. It went on.
I remember we walked into this building that went out on to a brick patio and my mom went left and my dad went right. My sister and I stayed where we were. I remember this so vividly. In fact, several years ago my wife and I went to Glacier and we happened to stop at this place. I thought maybe the fight was all part of a dream, but no, there was the restaurant and the building, the patio and the two paths, one going right and one going left. It happened and it happened right there.
They both deny it. That’s a good thing, I’m glad they do. When husbands and wives remember arguments it only leads to more. When arguing, your mind jumps back and brings up old wounds. Perhaps they agreed to forget certain things. Maybe they just chose to remember the good times. Whatever, I’m glad they did.
There were no drawn out arguments. When they did happen, they would separate for a time but then they’d be back talking and get it worked out. That has helped me so much in my marriage. Talk it out, forget the past, find a solution and move ahead. I appreciate that example, wasn’t just words, that’s what they did.