Monday, June 23, 2008

Father's Day

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on June 14, 2008.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and across the area Dads are preparing for the onslaught of bad cologne, ugly ties, homemade cards and useful power tools that usually accompany this auspicious occasion.

Last Father’s Day was my first without my own Dad, and as a result it was a bit subdued. Tomorrow is also a ground-breaking Father’s Day for me, but for a much happier reason.

This year my oldest son joins the much-maligned Fraternal Order of Fatherhood club (FOF for short). With the birth of my first grandchild two months ago (did I mention his name is William?) my son Aaron is officially entitled to all the rights and privileges that come with recognition on Father’s Day.

His wonderful wife is planning a great celebration, complete with a trip to Fenway Park for a tour with son Will. I am sure his first Father’s Day will be both memorable and meaningful.

For me, this has put a bit of the spark back into Father’s Day. While I have no complaint with either of my sons or my wife when it comes to how I am treated on Dad’s Day, I must admit as my kids have gotten older the day has become something less than it was.

I miss the years when my young kids would trash the kitchen in a desperate attempt to make me breakfast in bed. It was some of the worst food – and best times – I have ever had.

As I type this column, to my left sits a pencil holder made by my oldest son in the first grade for Father’s Day. It is an aluminum can wrapped in paper and badly colored with crayon – but I have saved it for over 20 years now. It sits next to the decorated rock paperweight my youngest son Nate made for me when he was in kindergarten.

You just don’t throw that stuff away.

My lovely wife has gotten me some wonderful Father’s Day presents over the years, some useful and some unusual. My favorite is the year she gave me a toilet seat. I unwrapped it and stared at it like it was from another planet, not quite comprehending the significance of such an emotional and thoughtful gift.

When I questioned the appropriateness of her lovely gesture, she reminded me money was tight and we needed a toilet seat. I nodded solemnly, making a mental note to buy her a bathroom scale next Mother’s Day.

But this year I am excited for my son. He loves being a father, and seeing him get to experience the joy of being a parent has lifted my heart and lightened my spirit.

We are all influenced by our parents, in ways both good and bad. My son inherited my love of writing and my skill for placing my foot squarely in my mouth. But I’d like to think he also learned from me about being a father – both from what I did well and what I could have done better.

Nothing pleases and dismays us more than seeing ourselves come back through our children. We proudly note the similarities that make us smile, and gloss over the irritating traits we know full well they got from us.

But watching my son as a Dad is a great joy, one I had not really considered before. Welcoming him into FOF is sort of like taking him to his first ballgame. It is a right of passage for both of us.

My relationship with my Dad taught me to never hold back my feelings for my boys. I have told them countless times they will never be too old to kiss their father, and I tell them I love them as often as I can. I have always tried to be a positive influence in their lives, and with a few exceptions I think I have succeeded.

Now to see that all coming back in my son being a father to my grandchild – well, that’s one of the best Father’s Day presents I could ever receive.

Of course, it’s no toilet seat…

Bill Gouveia is a father, grandfather, and local columnist who wishes all the other Dads out there a great day tomorrow. Bill can be reached at aninsidelook@aol.com.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Bill: So true! Congrats on your first "grand" father's day!
Cathy