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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Great Dad Just Great






Just Like 


How you ask, how do I know this? Because yesterday I looked in the mirror after I finished shaving and found two white curlicues of hair growing out of the top of my right ear.

Great Dad. Just Great.

Then, after I yanked them out and made my eyes water, I noticed your male patterned baldness on display just above my eyebrows and unconsciously reached up and patted the thinning spot on the back of my head.

Great Dad. Just Great.

I pulled open my sock drawer, looked down at my feet and spied the bare spot spreading from my ankles to about three inches up my calf. Your ankles are bare there too.

Great Dad. Just Great. 

Just about the time I thought I had pulled myself together, I grabbed an old golf shirt and wondered where I had seen it before. I saw it on you. We have the exact same shirt. In the same exact color. With the exact same logo.

Great Dad. Just Great.

I shrugged it off as I tucked in a different shirt into my jeans, zipped myself up, and buckled my belt. My belt. I am wearing a belt with my jeans. And my gut, my gut is hanging ever so slightly over the top of my pants.

Great Dad. Just Great.

It is a beautiful sunny bright blue Saturday in June and I am mowing the yard. Trimmer first. Mowing and mulching. My yard. And when I am finished I will vacuum out the car, wash, rinse and polish with a chamois that I keep on a hook in the garage right next to my red tool box, the one you gave me when I moved into my first place. I know that if I call you right now, Mom will say you are busy doing exactly the same thing. The only difference is that I have a cell phone and you still have a land line.

Great Dad. Just Great.

So I'll just put on my headphones and listen to a few tunes. Just to chill. I'll just listen to...oh, man, oh, man, oh man...we listen to the same bands. This is really really bad. This is unbelievable.

Everywhere I go there you are and everywhere you go there I am. 

Great Dad. Just Great. 

I'm okay I say. I'm okay. It's just that Father's Day is looming on the horizon and I've been thinking about you a lot, so it's perfectly natural to notice a few similarities. I mean, I did follow you around when I was a kid. I did stand in your shadow and played with the hose while you washed the car. And I did ride along to the hardware store where we fondled tools and I watched you heft a socket wrench or two. You taught me how to mow and how to drive and how to shave and how to swear under my breath so that Mom couldn't hear.

Great Dad. Just Great. 

But I have to draw the line somewhere.

Be a man.

Stand on my own two feet.

Take responsibility for my life.

So, though we share a few mannerisms and peccadillos, I refuse to cross the line.

I don't mind looking a bit like you.

I just won't sound like you.


I mean I'm standing here watching my kids parked in front of the TV and I can hear your voice in my head. Your voice when I came through the door late at night, after curfew, with beer on my breath. Your voice when I dented the car door backing out of the garage. Your voice when you came up behind me when I was doing research on the computer, and then tried in vain to talk to me about sex.

Great Dad. Just Great 

I just yelled at the kids. I don't know why. I just did. The words just rolled out of my mouth, something about it being a beautiful day and why are they sitting on the couch I paid for with my hard earned dollars, and didn't they have to finish their chores, oh no, no, no, I used the word chores. There's more. I can feel it building. I know exactly how this conversation is about to go, so I slap my hand over my mouth, and now the kids are staring at me.

Great Dad. Just Great. 

Then I hear it. Your voice. The one you used on the first day of Kindergarten, when you told me to be tough, while your voice broke in little pieces all over the front seat as you turned your head and nudged me out the door.  The same voice when I scored my first goal in soccer, yelling my name, my name, like it was, you know, special. Your voice when I left home for college. Standing in the parking lot, both of us with our brave faces on. Study, you said. Study hard. Then we both turned, and I was the one who looked back, to see your hand raised over your head, waving me on my way.That time I took the stage, guitar in hand, with my band. The night before my wedding, with index cards in your hand, the words practiced over and over on the plane, now stuck in your throat. The words you couldn't speak, well, I heard 'em anyway.

And then. In the hospital, with my son, in my arms, and your arm around my shoulder, as we said it at exactly the same time.

I love you son. 

Great Dad. Just Great.

I guess some things bear repeating. 

I love you Dad.

It's exactly what I want to say, and what I am longing to hear.

I'm a lot like you and it's...

Happy Father's Day

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