In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
“That the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own” ~An excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.
In pondering over this excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s quote, I began to get an entirely new impression of my father. I had never really stopped and thought of my dad or any father for that matter, in this light.
Just to think about our dads not as “our father” but a person that was at one time just a child, with a world full of aspirations and dreams for their future. As a free spirited little boy, their world was filled with a hundred ‘missions.’ Building their “super cool” tree house, getting together with their buddies, journeying on endless hikes to the river where they would spend hours, skipping rocks, while talking about what the name of their new “BOYS ONLY” club would be. 🙂 They had more fun, escaping to an imaginary place and time, as they vigorously played out their epic battles pretending to be Captain America or a super power space invader. Their stomachs growling, they’d quickly run home right about noon, raid the fridge and be gone before their mom had a chance to say hello. Feeling ‘all fueled up,’ they were off to race their bikes, hunt for rocks, head to the ‘five and dime’ to buy their long- awaited baseball cards, they’d been saving weeks of their allowance for. And one thing you can be sure of, they were undoubtedly getting into a heap of mischief, that would only stay between them and their ‘buddies.’
It seems like suddenly (as we all are so aware of how quickly time flies by,) they approach young adulthood, meet that ‘special someone,’ fall in love, get married and before they know it, they are a father. They now have taken on one of the most important roles in their lives, not knowing for sure how to do it, if they will be good at it or all that it will entail. They are a child’s father and that takes precedence over anything else. Yes, they work hard at their careers, but with a new reason, as now they are a provider for their family. Beyond their profession, being a husband and a best friend to his pals, they are now becoming a child’s idol, mentor, role model, protector, guidance counselor and tower of strength. WOW!
Do you ever wonder if your dad asked himself the question, “Where did that little boy I was for such a short time go? When did I become a “grownup” and now a dad , in charge of molding my own child’s life? Unlike our moms, who carried us in their womb for nine months, feeling a since of preparation after they had read umpteen books on pregnancy and motherhood, where do our dads learn what it takes to be a father? Do they remember all that their father taught them about being a dad? Do they have close friends who can give them educated advice? Perhaps they are a man of great faith and cling tightly to the teachings they were raised on. The answer to that question is unique for each dad. My father was a military man and as a child attended boarding school in New England. He lived his life with such a strong discipline and it came naturally for him to follow orders. I never asked him if he had wished someone would have given him directions that he could easily follow for the huge quest of fatherhood that laid before him. I can only imagine that a father, must (at times,) feel the weight of the world on his shoulders as he begins his family. When I think of a father, I liken him to “The last man standing,” meaning, he can finally go to sleep at night when he knows that everyone in his household is safe, doing well, the bills are paid and everything is in working condition.
For many of us , we grew up with our dads being someone we only saw on weekends and in the early evenings, when our moms were busily cooking dinner and taking care of last minute details for the mealtime to be a success. As soon as our dads arrived home from their work day, they’d get all of our attention whether they felt up to it or not. (I know in our home, we were crawling all over my fathers favorite ,”ah, I can finally relax” chair, sitting upon his lap, wanting a sip of his ice cold beer and a bite of his cheddar cheese, asking him a million questions and talking a mile a minute, about our day.) Sometimes, I think that children wait all day long, just to tell their dads what colossal thing they have achieved during the day, in hopes to get one of his much desired, twinkling eye smiles. 🙂
A father is so many things to his children, a totally different relationship existing between he and his son, than the one he has with his daughter. In this blog, I thought of ‘just a few,’ (as the list in endless,) of the special things that our dads are in our lives...Some we can identify with, others perhaps not at all, as all of us have a different, very distinctive and individual relationship with our fathers… For those things that you can smile and say “Yes, that is me and my dad,” I hope it will in someway enhance your celebration this year with your dad on Fathers day. If you have lost your father, as I, then maybe choose one or two that you can say, “Yes, that was me and my dad,” and celebrate within your heart how he enriched your life in ways only he could, and that you are a far better person because he was your DAD. 🙂
“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.” ~ John Wilmot
“Saturday mornings, I’ve learned, are a great opportunity for kids to sneak into your bed, fall back asleep, and kick you in the face.” ~ Dan Pierce
“Fatherhood is the greatest education a man can ever receive.”~ Asa Don Brown.
“With children, the clock is reset. We forget what came before.” ~ Jhumpa Lahiri
“If I succeed as a businessman but fail as a father, then it’s all been for nothing. That’s by far the most important role that I’ll ever play in my life — being a parent and being a husband.” ~ Actor Mark Wahlberg
“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.” ~Bill Cosby
“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!” ~Lydia M. Child.
“It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.” ~Johann Schiller
“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.” ~M*A*S*H.
“Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.” ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” ~ Sigmund Freud
“Dad, you have strengthened me with your prayers, blessed me with your love and encouraged me with your hope. ~ Author Unknown
TO A DAUGHTER, A FATHER IS;
THEIR FIRST LOVE.
Little do we know as little girls, that we will compare every boy and young man to our DAD. He is our first introduction to what a man is… He can do no wrong in our eyes as we trust him with all our hearts. He is always funny, never wrong and the one we wait for everyday to arrive home from his job. We love it when he swings us around in his strong arms, kissing us hello, because we have a knowing inside that we are safe and secure. (Plus we just love being the center of his attention.) 🙂
A SAFE HARBOR AND PROTECTOR
I love this quote written in jest; “DADD, Dad’s Against Daughters Dating, shoot the first one and the word will spread.”
I bet you it was the father of some extraordinary girls who wrote this. 🙂 Our dad’s are so protective of us, as little girls, teenagers and especially when we are on the search for the man we hope to spend the rest of our lives with. I know when I was a little girl and someone at school bullied me, or as a teen, my heart got broken (and I thought it would never mend,) there was my dad, wanting to defend, protect and make everything OK. I have found that even after my father died, and things happen in my life, I still reach for the phone wanting to tell him about it…an instinct within as we somehow believe our dads can take care of any problem. Whether they’re slight in build, or a contestant in a muscle building contest, a computer genius or a creative artist, in our eyes we only see them as our dad. He is the perfect image of what a “man” should be. He is a place to go when we feel overwhelmed as well as a tower to run to, as somehow we know that after we ‘let him know about what’s troubling us’ it will somehow all go away.
OUR HERO…we believe he can do anything.
Yes, we do believe our dads can do anything… (poor guy.) They certainly try not to burst our bubbles. They want that era to last just as long as we do, and they try so hard to preform every miracle, (little or big,) that we so desperately want to happen in our growing up years. (Making sure that Santa did a good job on Christmas Eve, in bringing us everything on our list, that the dinner they cook for the family on Mothers day is not burnt, that they themselves, will chase away every monster that is under our beds and that we need not worry about ANYTHING, EVER! Even as adult women, who now know the secret that was bound to come out sooner or later, (no our dad’s do not have super powers,) 🙂 we still believe two very important things. Number one, our dads would take those super power handouts if they could, (to make our world better,) and secondly, they are always a hero in our eyes for all the things they have done and still do, to make our life more magical.
A TRUE ENCOURAGER, BELIEVING IN US AND OUR MANY GIFTS.
Who else sees us through the eyes of our dad… They look at us like little princesses…no boy or man is ever good enough for us, they believe we are beautiful even when we are going through our ” awkward growing up stages,” think we can conquer the world when we feel at our lowest and never notice when we get wrinkles or gain weight. 🙂 We will always be beautiful in their eyes. They have so many dreams inside for what they hope we will be and accomplish, as they see our gifts and talents before we do. And when we’re not heading in the directions of their chimeras for us, yes, they may say a word or two, but then they let go and walk by our side and just keep on encouraging us as we continue on this journey of life, becoming who we want to be.
AND SOMETIMES, A BEST FRIEND.
When we are little, their smile melts our hearts…we crave their approval. When we are teenagers, they stick to us like glue, never complaining about the “new attitudes and fads” we bring home with us from our peers, and as young women, they CAREFULLY watch each young man we date, (giving them all different kinds of looks that only the two of them understands.) When they finally give us away to that one special man, they don’t want us to see it, but they shed tears as they know their little girl, now belongs to someone else. When we are “all grown up,” we are indeed tremendously blessed if we suddenly realize that this man who raised us and has worn so many hats in our lives is now one of our best friends in life.
TO A SON, A FATHER IS;
A MAN THEY IDOLIZE…he is their role model… the one they want approval from more than anyone else.
There is just something so special between dads and their sons… In growing up with five brothers, at times I felt like there were a myriad of clones running around our home…carbon copy’s of my father, but in the pint size version. 🙂 Boys have such a need for their dads approval and they want to do whatever they can to please him and make him proud. He is after all, their first introduction to what being a man is all about. If his dad likes football, then so does he…If his father is a chef, you can bet his son wants to be right by his side learning to cook creatively. Its a beautiful thing to watch.
A TEACHER OF MANY SKILLS.
By the time a man is a father, he already carries with him a repertoire of many diverse skills. He’s an expertise with his God given talents as well as all the many things he has learned , conquered and accomplished physically, emotionally as well as spiritually. One of his hearts delights is to teach them to his son. As he mentors, connects and teaches his son, he is also equipping him with gifts that will help him to become a man and one day to be a great father to his own son.
A MAN WHO BELIEVES IN HIM, enabling him to believe in himself.
There is a big difference between a father believing everything you do is right and believing IN YOU. Whenever we meet someone in life that we know truly trusts and believes in us as a friend, mate or parent figure, it’s like taking a pill that brings a high dosage of ‘strength and self esteem.’ WE are the first one amazed at how confident we feel inside, the new goals we are making, (and actually accomplishing,) all because someone has believed that we could. I believe one of the innate gifts a fathers heart embodies is their belief in their sons, (and daughters.) (With the added bestowal of GRACE.)
A BEAUTIFUL SOURCE OF WISDOM.
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Mark Twain
Isn’t that the truth! As little boys, every word their father speaks is taken in and savored, cherished like their bag of candy from trick or treating.When the teenage years hit, its as if the words of his dad, go in one ear and out the other. Then, as they become a young man, they are back seeking the advice of their father and are ready to truly listen and take in all the wisdom, discernment, insight, good judgement and ‘trial by fire’ knowledge their fathers embody. Suddenly, its as if their dad is the wisest man they know. What a man has walked through and experienced throughout his life time is truly one of the most important things his son receives in his life, and its a free gift.
A BLESSING AND BEST FRIEND.
A father, many a time is a little boys origination of what a best friend is…but that friendship can be interrupted as a dad has to choose to be a parent above a friend and its difficult for his little boy to understand that. Perhaps fathers and sons go in and out of friendship seasons… One of the most beautiful things in my life that I witnessed first hand, was my husband and his father becoming best friends right about the time Kit and I met one another. I was in awe of the deep respect they held for one another as men as well as the fun and laughter they shared when they were together. It reminded me that its never to late in life to develop a new friendship and how wonderful when its someone you’ve know all your life. YOUR DAD.
I asked a few people who are dear to my heart, to share some of their favorite memories of their fathers, as well as what their dad imparted to their life that changed them as a person. I was very touched and I hope you will be too.
My dear friend Corrine Peji.
“Angel Peji… my father, a man true to his name. ”
My father was the very definition of self-less love. He was a person that captivated my heart, and a father I absolutely adored, respected and cherished. My parents raised my six siblings and I in the Philippines. Our family lived below poverty level, which at times was eminently disheartening. Despite the fact that we were poor, my father, who possessed a great love for education, NEVER gave up on the dream within his heart, for his 7 children to have the opportunity to go to college and graduate.
I will never forget my graduation day. If only you could have seen the look on my dad’s face when I got my diploma, he was beaming from ear to ear, with such great joy. While standing at the podium, as the Dean was congratulating me, my father, out of nowhere, suddenly grabbed the microphone, shouting to the crowds; “This is my daughter Corrine. I am her father.” He then embraced me like he’d never let go…it brought me to tears.
My father worked for $2.00 a day as Porter in a public market, and volunteered to pitch water for a neighbor in exchange for old shoes for me to wear. His heart was totally dedicated to his family and his dream, no matter the cost, often times working with poor health. He is the one who made it possible for all 7 of his children to become professionals.
After Graduation, when we walked down the stage together, I can still remember his words to me; “Corrine this will be the start of your success, just do not let the kindness depart from your heart, and you are there.”
He was in seventh heaven and I was so happy to see the abundance of exuberant joy overflowing within his heart for this landmark occasion. He was the real honoree that day, not I. He almost collapsed when I handed him my diploma. If not for all that he and my mother had sacrificed, I would not have been able to achieve the success that I had.
My family’s poverty is something that drove each one of my siblings and me to succeed, as we witnessed daily my fathers, devotion, dedication and sacrifice so that he could provide for us an education and all we needed to have, to go along with that extraordinary gift. One of my most vivid memories as a little girl was one night when I asked my parents at supper time, why they were not eating with us. They always replied; “We have something we need to finish doing.” I wanted to help, so I offered to clean up the kitchen but they asked me to go and study, so I did. While studying, I got thirsty and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water; my parents looked like they were in a serious, yet quiet discussion. As I listened, I heard the words “Tuition fee.” I saw them eating and it broke my heart …Before them was a half-filled bowl of porridge filled with a small portion of fish…they had saved all of our leftovers for their supper. I could not stop crying.
It was at this time that I began to understand why they did not share meal time with all of us. At that moment, I made the promise to myself; “I will make it possible for my dad and mom to live like a King and Queen someday. God was so good; He equipped me with more than I could have ever dreamed of to bring that promise into fruition before they both died. I praise God every day for that.
Another moment I cherish…My father had such a great love for my two sisters and I, (being the only girls in the family.) I would always say to my sisters that I was his favorite. (Of course my other siblings would disagree,) saying; “No we’re his favorite.” When I married my husband Mhon, my father’s words were so beautiful and touching, I could not stop the tears from flowing.
He spoke; “Mhon, Corrine is the best I have and I am giving her to you, take care of her.”
My father imparted to my life, the same wonderful faith that he had for his maker. On his death bed in July 1998, he and I were talking…I was massaging his cold feet…My father was a Mestizo, his skin an olive complexion, but not that day…his feet were so white. The thought of losing my father was incomprehensible. I told him that I could not live without him.
He replied; “Yes you can Corrine.”
I repeated my words in desperation, and then he pleaded; “Corrine do not teach me to go against our fathers will.”
Still not wanting to let him go, I said; “How can we celebrate Christmas day without YOU? It will not be the same without you there.”
He began singing his favorite song ‘Silent Night.’
There the two of us were, having Christmas together in July. He noticed that his singing did not put a stop to the tears that were flowing from my eyes, so he lifted my face with his weakened hands and asked me to look into his eyes. I barely managed, but when I did, I saw that my father’s eyes resembled the eyes of Jesus. With both of us crying at this time, he spoke word’s to me that will forever be inscribed upon my heart;
“I am not your father Corrine.” (I was beginning to think he was hallucinating, as I did not understand what he was saying.)
I quickly spoke to reassure him; “Yes, you are.”
His second reply caused me to hear what his heart was saying…and it truly was complete wisdom.
“I am not your real father, you have Him in heaven. I am just your physical father here on earth. Your real father is in heaven. He is the only one capable of giving you all that you need.”
My father then asked me to promise not to go against God’s will…So I nodded in submission. As he put his hand over mine, he flashed the sweetest smile I had ever seen and closed his eyes, forever. My whole being was numb, filled with a great sadness I had never felt before. What a legacy he left with me…He left me His faith in our creator…a treasure that money can’t equal.
God is a great God and Father. I have come to know and understand Gods father heart because of my experience with my own father on earth…My father’s name was Angel Peji…a name that fit him perfectly, as it truly described WHO HE WAS.
My sister Gin , my fathers firstborn.
“Okay, I admit it, as a little girl growing up, I was what many would call a “Military brat.” My dad, a man who served 28 yrs in the United States Marine corp, as well as fathered 8 children, was a hard man to get a lot of one on one time with, but when he was home, ( and not fighting in the war oversees,) he managed to make all of his children, ( as well as my mom,) feel like they were his number one priority. My favorite memories of my father were when I was in elementary school… at that time I was the oldest of three, (not even fathoming it would one day be a family of TEN. Whew!) I was so thrilled that my dad was home from the war and could hardly wait until the five o’clock hour when he would arrive home. He was so handsome in his uniform and I was so proud to have him as my dad. He loved to sit in his favorite chair, have a beer and some kind of savory snack before we all sat down to dinner. It was a given that whatever he was having , I would be his co-partner in devouring every morsel… I’d run and sit on his lap, feeling like the most important little girl in the world. Whether we shared my moms homemade chicken bog, jambalaya, (or my dads favorite,) fresh avocado slices with Worcestershire sauce and fresh garlic, I just loved being the center of his attention. Because he and I shared these special times, it caused me to feel that I was a person of real significance. He even asked me out on a date when I was in 4th grade. It was one of the most magical days of my life. He surprised me with a wondrous afternoon matinee at the National Ballet Theater in Washington DC. We saw the renowned and classic performance of Swan Lake. I remember being in total awe with the enchanting music, breathtaking choreography, the superb dancing and extraordinary theatrical special effects. If that alone was not enough, he then took me to the Waldorf Astoria for a spectacular dinner that was filled with more scrumptious food than I could eat, accompanied by a grandiose, elegant ambiance. I truly felt like a “little princess” out for the day, with my prince.”
“The most important bestowal my father imparted to my life was a sense of independence and responsibility. He was a man that taught me to face life and not turn away from my issues. He’d always say; “Life is filled with challenges and you need to meet them head on and conquer your problems.”
He gave me a belief in my self that I did not have, because he truly believed in me. ”
Kit and his “Pops.”
“So today, I have many great memories of when we went fishing, hunting and/or just sitting around a dinner table telling stories, playing games and/or just talking. My father, towards the end of his life became my best friend and mentor. On one of the most important days of my life, my wedding day, it was my dad that I chose to be my Best Man.”
“Of the many things my father taught me through example and belief, I value these the most; I could achieve anything I wanted to, give everyone grace until they prove to not deserve it, be tenacious and to never give up.”
My long time friend, Cheri.
My good friend Connie.
“The happiest memories I have of my dad were when I was hunting or fishing with him. Even though hunting can be considered violent, it helped me to appreciate and respect nature. My dad helped me learn to respect nature by only taking what we would use. Most of my happy memories of my dad are of him teaching me something. He is still alive and celebrated his 77th birthday this year.”
Whether your celebrating as a Dad, father figure or a son or daughter, honoring your father on this special occasion, I hope you all have a blessed and happy Fathers day. ENJOY!
***I also want to thank you, Corrine, Gin, Kit, Cheri and Connie for sharing your dad’s with us on this vignette.
PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.