While I sometimes glaze over the torrent of old photos and best wishes that come up every Father’s Day on Facebook, today I was moved to thinking about my father and thinking about the many other fathers that inhabited, or still inhabit, the lives of others. More than one of the Father’s day good wishers said their fathers were actually lousy at being fathers. But they give them a pass or at least don’t still hold a grudge, after all of these years.
I am an exception among my 58-60-year-old peers. Both my mother and father are still alive, and living busy active lives, and I am happy that I talk to them both every day when I make my 12:30 ‘pill guy” call. “Hello Pill Guy,” sometimes comes the telephone greeting. I don’t mind, I’m happy for a good excuse to call and just say hello.
I will always tell anyone who asks that I had, and have, the best father anyone could wish for.
I have very good memories of how my father raised me. I remember getting my ass whupped, and I remember the tremendous disappointment when I got suspended from boarding school and had to come home for 10 days. Ouch. I felt bad then and never got into trouble at school again. But most of all, I felt encouraged and total confidence that I would be successful. As I ventured into the newspaper business, which he had also been involved with as a magazine editor, we shared a lot of the same daily jobs, editing and writing to make a living.
When I was young, maybe about 8 or 9, dad organized a group of fathers to take outings with their sons to special places, that each father chose. Dad took us, five of my friends and I and some other dads, to a steam railroad in New Hope PA. We also toured Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Orange, and shot rifles at targets at a local farm.
Those moments were part of a great childhood. I always felt given the latitude I needed, never hemmed in. Sometimes I did think, ‘they oughta be stricter with me,’ but I adopted that same laisez faire attitude about my own kids and I am happy how they turned out. I would ride my bike with total freedom as a boy. I think that made me a traveler.
Bumpy today is 90, and he spends a lot of time going to memorials or writing eulogies. That comes with the territory. He’s always been able to be positive in whatever situation that befell him, and it shows, he knows how to appreciate life.
I am so glad that he is so mentally active and busy with his reading, and taking care of mom, and keeping the woodpiles full. Every time I visit I feel so taken care of, even now at their age, as I did when I was much younger. Thank you, Nat Hartshorne, for being such a great dad to me!
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