It’s tough to be a good dad these days. Our modern society places demands on fathers that our own parents could never have imagined. Things were much simpler then or so they seemed anyway.
I grew up in a two-parent family where my dad went to work and my mom stayed home. Conversations around the dinner table focused on my dad’s day as a music teacher and the ups and downs as he navigated the worlds of music and education.
Some evenings and most weekends, he’d pack up his upright bass to play a local gig returning in the wee hours of the morning. If that wasn’t enough, he also owned a music store filled with cool guitars, sheet music and sign-up sheets for private lessons.
On many occasions, we piled into the car to hear his middle and high school band’s concerts. These were exciting nights as I sat in a standing room only auditorium watching my father conduct and host the shows. The applause afterwards was deafening.
While I have more memories of time spent with my mom as a young child, those I have of my dad are rooted in the things he valued most. Family. Hard work. Respect. Education. Passion. These values guide my life today and those of my children.
He was clear on his role and working side by side with my mom, they raised six children and enjoyed many grandchildren. His various endeavors took him away from home a lot and so it was not until I was an adult that I began to get to know him as a person, not just as my father.
His advice and support in my later years were sought after regularly. Not one to sugar coat, I could always count on a straight-forward answer to whatever current dilemma I was facing. In his later years, our time together was spent playing cards or watching one of his favorite game shows.
These days as Alzheimer’s robs me of the man I called “Dad”, our time is mostly spent in light banter as the deep conversations we once had are only a memory now. He can no longer serve as my advisor and confidante and I find myself grieving his death despite him still being alive. For the man I knew as my father is gone.
But his legacy lives on. His values are deeply ingrained in me as I strive to teach these to my children who see me as “old school”. That’s ok. I thought the same thing about my dad growing up and today he remains one of the most respected and loved men in my life. And even though he may not remember me and our times together, I will never forget him.
To the dads of today I say embrace the old school values and teach them to your children. They are evergreen, enduring and will guide your children throughout their entire lives.