Fathers come in all shapes and sizes and I've known several of them during my life. Of course the first father I came into contact with was my own, sweet dad. The other day I was askinhg my mom about by father and I was surprised that there was once a soft, romantic dreamy-eyed young man under the tough and stern exterior I new to be my father.
My father picked my mother out of a sorority photograph from Los Angeles Community College when he was on leave from the Air Force. My Aunt Susan knew my mother and she asked her brother (my dad) who he thought looked like someone he would want to meet from the sorority photograph.
Their first date was sometime in 1956. My Grandmother Bess called my mom and asked if she would go out with her son (my dad) when he came home for a week from his Air Force duties.
The first time my father met my mother was at her apartment located on Blackburn Avenue in the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles. My mom said the first meeting didn’t go very well because she was having a party at her place when my dad came over.
“A bunch of my friends came over when your dad met me for the first time,” my mother said. “We were dressed in knee high socks and Bermuda shorts and dancing the Jitterbug in the middle of the living room. Your dad wasn’t too impressed with a bunch of teenagers being loud and running around so I’m surprised he asked me out on a second date.”
My mother went on to say that he was much more mature than her friends because he had already been in the Air Force for a few years. Apparently meeting my mother’s rowdy friends didn’t dissuade my father. Imagine my surprise when he took her dancing.
My father danced? Since when did my father like to dance?
“Oh Stacey,” my mother swooned. “Believe it or not he was a good dancer.” After the second date my mother told me that my father went home and told his parents that he just had a date with the woman he was going to marry. Three dates later my dad did ask her to marry him.
“I told him he was crazy,” my mom said. “I told him that he couldn’t possibly know me after only a few dates.”
For the next few years they courted each other through the mail. My mother still has a stack of the “Par Avion” letters he sent her from his base in Newfoundland where he was a cryptographer for the Air Force. He was asked to re-enlist but married my mother instead and began the journey of family man and then pharmacist.
The dad I knew wasn’t a very happy person and always looked like he wanted to be somewhere else other than with his family, but I guess that wasn’t always the case. My mother helped shed some light on who he was before he smothered himself with a sense of responsibility to everyone around him … but not to himself.
The life he chose drained him and his will to live. Maybe he thought the only way he could get out of his groove was by doing what he did—ignore the symptoms of his prostate cancer until it was too late.
My message to all fathers out there is this: The kind of father you end up being to your kids all depends on the choices you make now. How do you want your kids to remember their life with you when they become parents and start reflecting on their upbringing?
Don’t wake up in the morning with regret about anything you are doing with your life. If you are, change it. Your kids will respect you more for it. Whether you like it or not, you are the first hero your children will know and love.
It’s not too late to be a hero to your kids. Start with loving the life you lead and make this coming Father’s Day count.
Stacey Powells is a local writer and radio host. She hosts the Exhausted Parent Network Radio Show every Thursday night at 6 p.m. on KMMT. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . For more of her work, visit www.exhaustedparent.com . Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.