Fatherhood and all that Jazz

There is some kind of reassurance or strength we gain, when we do something or accomplish a goal,  our fathers are proud of. For many boys or young men that  praise is imagined, because their fathers were neglectful, overwhelmed, disengaged, ill or deceased.  

Young men without fathers or fathers that are negligent and selfish, still envision a reassuring hand that prods them on. Without it, they become impotent within society, they become like a cornered animal confused and violent. That is not to say, under the right conditions this could not be corrected. It happens regularly, but a struggle is part of the sequence.  

I had a limited relationship with my father, due to his deafness,  anti social behavior and early death. He was not a bad man, uncaring man, he just minded his own business. He was extremely intelligent, introspective and spiritual. 

One of his favorite sayings was, "If you have nothing important to say, then be quiet". Probably brought on by his frustration of trying to hear. He would often read the paper and shout out loud, "It's all hay wire". There was no need for anyone to be around to hear his proclamation. As far as he was concerned, his audience was a full house. 

We had a cat, a big cat, an old cat that would jump up and lay across my father's Toronto Star newspaper as he read. My Dad would just laugh with delight as old Maxi would just take his throne upon the news of the World. Eventually, Pops would doze off, his head pressed against the rock maple table, cigarette butts smoldering in a bean bag ashtray. 

My father died when I was eighteen years of age. After that, any project, problem or accomplishment I took on was with the idea of the old man patting me on the back. Saying, "Good job,  that's my boy".   Things he never said in real life.  Not that he never felt that way, it was probably unfamiliar to him, for his mother died in child birth and his own father died when he was just fourteen.  But I saw his pride in quick glimpses from time to time.

As I grow older I no longer look for outside approval, I recognize my own skills and ability and take pride in what I do. I am proud of my children, the way I have brought them up, my generous, loving wife, my work and the person I have become.  I still have many faults and they will remain a part of me, like cracked shellac or a copper oxide stained facade.

The lessons of the father are not the wielding of the hammer or the drawing of the bow, it is the accepting and respecting of  yourself,  knowing he'll never know. 

Uploaded 10/07/2011
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