F Is For Father

My father died when I was quite young. It was a tragic thing, of course, but we’re also talking about something that happened more than 30 years ago, so addressing it doesn’t get me all emotional. In fact, not much about the topic of my father does. I mean, honestly, I barely knew the man. He was a good dad, and I loved him and all that, but really, when you factor out the first two or three years of my life (during which my memories of him are sketchy at best – a fart joke here, a kiss on a bruised knee there), I really only knew him for about four years. That’s not a lot of time, honestly.

And that, of course, is the tragedy for me personally. Because everyone else who knew him – family, friends, business contacts, students, and so on – tell me (and anyone who will listen, usually) what a great man he was. Smart. Funny. Kind-hearted. Generous. A lot of words like that. And people tell me I’m a lot like him, so that’s nice. But people also get very sad when they talk about him, because they miss him in ways I just can’t. And that makes me sad, too, but really only in an academic fashion. I’ve watched grown men break down in tears over my father’s death and it’s a very uncomfortable situation for me. Not so much because seeing grown men cry is uncomfortable (though it is, to some degree), but because I myself don’t feel the need to cry. And that’s really hard to explain to people. But I’m going to try…

See, I’m happy with who I am and where I am. Sure, I’d change a few things here or there (more money, better health for my friends who need it, etc.), but all things being equal, I like my life. And if my father hadn’t died, my life would almost certainly be entirely different. I wouldn’t have gone to school where I went to school. I wouldn’t have met a number of people whom I still know today. One of those people, my best friend Xonk, is who hooked me up with the job where I met the woman who became The Duck. See where I’m going? My father’s death gave birth – after a fashion – to my life. I don’t read anything noble of self-sacrificing into that, though. I mean, he certainly didn’t willingly die so that I could turn out to be who I am 30-odd years later. But that does wind up being the result. Which is odd.

I’ll note one other thing before I move on from this topic. Growing up without a father figure was strange, but my mom kicked ass (and I’ll talk about her in a bit). No one on the planet has a better, tougher, sweeter mother than I do and there’s not really a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for her. She tried like hell to play both roles for me in my childhood and did the absolute best that anyone could. So when I decide to write on the concept of “father” I have to include my mother, too. Because honestly, except for a tiny portion of my life, she served in both capacities.

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