life

Father’s Day Stories

The title is basic, but with the deadline looming, this is all I got. I know this will not be a hallmark moment but I celebrate each father in my life through story. Each story is real and sums up their skills at the fathering stuff and what they have taught me along the way about being truly fantastic dads and a better human. I love them all!

I am going in order. First, my grandfather. Yes, deceased, but not to be forgotten. He helped raise me. Long story and not the point. He was a former NYPD Police Officer. Quiet. Very. My grandmother was the talker of the two. My grandfather had true kindness in his soul. Never was there a day that he was rude, to anyone. Ever. The slow driver. It was OK, we are not in a rush. The cocky athlete (at night he worked at the Arizona Coliseum). They were rude because they were tired or lost a big game. A “customer” of the public library not returning his greetings, by day he was security at the Phoenix Public Library. They did not hear him. He thought the best of people, always. In return, he was everyone’s favorite, everywhere. My best moments with my grandfather were at the deli, we went weekly. The deli guy always gave him extra of anything he wanted. He always asked for extra bagels, because of my grandmothers daily bagel habit. He got it, plus I got a wink and the shhh sign, as he piled in extra pastrami, a salad, or corned beef into his slim personal order for his weekly lunches. The deli guy knew he took two lunches a day, to get through his day shift and night shift, and if there was not enough deli, he would get leftovers. Grandma, was not a good cook. The deli guy saved him. My grandfather would have not accepted the gesture and always acted surprised with the extras when my grandmother calculated the bag. It worked. He always thought of others first, and spent everything he had on them. He was the best overall human and I miss him daily. I would like to say he taught me true kindness, and self-sacrifice. He did. Along with the art of a great nap. He could sleep anywhere at anytime. There are stories of him sleeping through his subway stops. Right there with you grandpa, sans the subway. You would be proud of my napping skills and the kindness and patience I use daily in my classroom. Thank you for raising me and being the best role model a kid could have! Happy Father’s Day!

My dad. He is a book, by himself. Let’s just say his stories are his to share, not mine. I met my dad later in life as my parents divorced in my early years. Throughout the years I would visit once or twice a year. But always for Christmas. My favorite memory was our car rides. To the store, to a family members house, on an errand…wherever. I loved driving with him. We would talk, but most of the time, I would just listen. As I was more fascinated with the stories of his life and filling in the pieces about my own. One Christmas, he told me were taking a detour as we headed back to the house from some shopping. He did not say where we were going but it was not in a neighborhood near the house. He got quiet as he drove and launched into a story about the drunk homeless and how they had buddies to protect them. He knew where we were going from the purposeful turns and from the response he received when he got out of the car. He gave each group of guys $100 bucks. We found three groups that night. They greeted him, took the money, and blessed him. Each time he got back in the car, he was quiet. After we could find no more. He said, “That will help them for a couple days. I hope they eventually see the light and get help.” My dad taught me the good, bad, and the ugly about life through his own stories and how each of us has the power to write our own story. Change our story. Or, if a chapter is a bit bumpy, we have our own power to smooth out the ending. If we are willing to work. Thank you, dad for teaching me about all the rough times. You gave me hidden skills that I use daily in this crazy world. Happy Father’s Day!

My hubs. He gave me our one and only. The kid who is turning thirty. So the adult. KWL was born with an eating challenge and this was tough on us mentally, physically, and financially, in the early years. The hubs sat me down in our first long-term hospital visit and simply said. “We will beat this. We will not give up. You will get tougher and rise to any occasion and I will make sure we can afford it all.” Which we couldn’t. So our journey began, in the children’s playroom, at Stanford Hospital. It was the last tear I shed, in public. Feeding tube, piece of cake. Financial testing and new job. Done. Fancy feeding machine. Thank you Amex. The best tubes money could buy. Done. A triple order of them. Done, as the kid ripped out his monthly tubes every single day. Done and ouch. In hindsight, tube ripping should have been a sign to his eventual stubbornness, but I was busy. We continued the ripping and sinking for six months. He was tube free at nine months and by twelve months he had made the weight chart. By three, he was scoring goals in little person soccer and by four no weight issues were noted on his chart. When he walked onto the field he was the tiniest soccer player, catcher, and toughest pitcher that other parents ignored, he would be that bench kid. Nope. I just kept saying keep your head up and stay focused. The kid never doubted me and the hubs kept cheering us on and supporting my own daily doubts and fears. The kid scored the goals, caught the balls, and threw harder than boys twice his age. He never bragged. Dad never bragged. I bragged for both of them. Someone had to do it! Instead, he helped the underdogs. Always. On the side he would race the slower kids to help their speed, kick balls with the middlefield kids, who preferred butterflies, and played catch with anyone even if they kept dropping the ball. At baseball one day, he put his arm around a kid and said, “You will get it, just keep your head up and stay focused.” I cried. Take that sports moms. Never sat out a game. Ever, and told dad about every moment and never begrudged him not being there at a game. He knew where he was and both of us accepted that reality. So when a speech challenge arose, private therapy, and private schools were supplied a la dad and his long hours at the office. When the kid was “found” by a tennis coach, he fell in love with the sport, and it became his sport. The hubs made it happen, as he was a great dad. His role was not to be at home. He got sidelined and missed the big stuff so he could provide for us financially, as our life as parents took a turn upon birth. Feeding machines and Stanford therapy ain’t cheap. So choices were made and the hubs gave us the gift of ability. None of this came from me, it was the hubs, working his a** off so he could provide. You can argue he missed the best of times, but I disagree, he coached me through the worst and had an overview of it all along the way. Now, he gets to fully enjoy being a grandfather and that is a double joy for him and a thrill for me to watch! Happy Father’s Day!

The kid. I know your first thought… biased. Nope. I call it like I see it. A Sugar-coated life is not my style. Obviously, I became a grandmother. Cue the trumpets. I was made for this life. But oddly, I was nervous to see my son as a father. Walking into my first glimpse of their journey is drilled in my head forever. He was sitting in the hospital room just cradling the nugget. Mom, “This is your grandson.” I shook my head to acknowledge the statement, and said. “Yes, more importantly this is your son.” We giggled, cried, and kept smiling at the perfection. He went onto explaining the skin to skin process, taught me how to diaper by showing off his diaper technique, and then I held him, the kid by my side. No longer my little boy. A dad. And three years later these two have formed a bond for life. Dad is the protector from all things bad and scary, the park dad, the swim dad, the everything dad. He is what a little boy could ever want, and need. I love to listen to the kids stories of the nugget doing something new or extra cute, or playing at the nuggets park, a visit to great-grandma, going to speech, or even a grocery store outing is an adventure for my boys. Anything and everything is told to me with a glimmer in his eyes that is so precious. Now, the kid has given up a full-time life outside of the home, for physical reasons, but that means he was given the golden opportunity to be just dad. A true gift. And just a dad he is not. He is so much more. He has taught me to truly trust in who I have raised and reap the joy from this grandparent gig. He’s got this. Kid, you have been blessed with the gentleness of your great-grandfather, the empathy and compassion of your grandfather, and the toughness of your father. You will pass all of this on in your own way and in your time. I can’t way to watch! Happy Father’s Day!

So, to my pops, hubs, and the kid. Look at your kids, hold them dear, and try to remember every moment fondly, even when they are not. Especially, to the newest member of the dad clan, when you find your mind dulling or you are scraping playdough off the dining table for the umpteenth time. These times will pass and you will miss playdough. I do.

Happy Father’s Day!