Remembering a Father Fondly

May 1, 2009


On a Wednesday a few weeks ago, I was riding back from the church wood splitting session with the Friendly Neighbor. I know he worked for the Boy Scouts all of his life and met Mrs. Friendly Neighbor when she worked for the Boy Scouts.

I asked him what caused him to start working for the Boy Scouts in the first place. He said, “My father worked for the Boy Scouts, so it was natural for me for me to get into scouting.”

He then added, “My father was a very inspirational person and he was much admired by many people. After he died, over a hundred people attended his funeral.”

I was startled as I heard him speak of his father with such evident admiration and appreciation. Both David Rochester and I grew up with very troublesome and troubling fathers. In my case, my father died of his second heart attack a couple of days after I stood up up to him for the first time. David’s father is still alive, though suffering from serious health problems. David’s experiences with his father as a small child were so harmful and troubling that his personality fragmented. He has spoken of wishing his father would die.

My first reaction to hearing the Friendly Neighbor speak of his father with such admiration and affection was a kind of shock. However, I then thought, Why not have a father you love and admire? That is the way things should be. The Friendly Neighbors have five children. I haven’t met them, but I am pretty sure they admire and love their parents.

I would not advance or nominate myself as a perfect parent by any means, but I have always tried to be the kind of parent my daughter would not resent or regret having. She and her partner call us and visit us and bring Random Granddaughter to visit us or invite us to visit without our whining and nagging.

I consider that a good sign. My wife and I are not that into funerals and death ceremonies, but I have tried to live my life to be the kind of father my child would not regret having and would remember with affection and appreciation, and whatever they decide to do about my passing will be fine with me.

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8 Responses to “Remembering a Father Fondly”

  1. teaspoon Says:

    As you may or may not remember, I also have a father who is, as you say “troublesome and troubling.” I always find it difficult to hear other people talk about their own fathers with love and admiration. I almost have a hard time believing that it could be so, but of course many people have good fathers. It’s just that my perception has been so tainted by my own father that I am immediately suspicious of all the fathers of people I know. Pretty sad. I’m glad that you are one of the good ones.

  2. Corina Says:

    My father was very loving when I was a child. Somehow, as he aged and life dealt him more than a few tough blows, all that changed. Now he is hateful, and I dread any contact with him. Although the recent death of my brother has caused me to wonder if I shouldn’t go and seek him out and try to overlook his faults. The jury is still out.

  3. modestypress Says:

    teaspoon,

    It’s good to have you visiting and commenting in my blog. I decided the best revenge was to be a good parent.

    Corinna,

    My wife and I are both difficult people. We are difficult with each other, and as we get older we will probably become more difficult. I hope we don’t become dreadfully difficult before we die.

    My wife mutters more and more frequently, “Getting old is not for sissies.”

  4. Average Jane Says:

    The best revenge is to be a good parent..you say the rightest things. I too do not have a father I remember with any degree of fondness, quite the contrary in fact. I am so very frightened I will become like him because I do see shades of him in me sometimes. But I resist. So yes, like teaspoon I am very suspicious of fathers in general but ofcourse I am sure they exist!

  5. Average Jane Says:

    I mean I am sure good, loving, trustworthy fathers who set examples for their children exist!

  6. woo Says:

    I can’t say I admire my father in any way, but he didn’t actually abuse us physically – he just was never particularly interested in us. Which is weird because now I appear to be the only one of his four children who is still on speaking terms with him. He actually emails me (with stupid, often racist ‘jokes’ admittedly)… possibly this is because I am now living thousands of miles away and can’t expect anything from him.

    But my mother talks about her father with affection and admiration – and I do remember him though he died when I was 9 – so I hold fast to that ‘father figure’ example.

    Incidentally, a large part of the reason I finally broke up with my last partner was that I knew he wouldn’t be the kind of father I wanted for my children. He was too much like my own father. Go figure…

  7. modestypress Says:

    woo, I had a good friend who married oddly, but perhaps well enough. However, she told me after observing her husband with their dog she decided not to have any children. Perhaps everyone should have to pass a pet test before being allowed to have a child.


  8. Mr. Random — I think you’re on to more than you realize with the pet test idea.


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