Friday, June 19, 2015
This Dad and Grandpa Celebrates Father's Day
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, June 19, 2015
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
This Sunday is Father’s Day. It will be my 36th as a dad and my 8th as a grandfather.
Yeah, I know – this is Father’s Day, not Grandfather’s Day. But I don’t care. Any excuse to brag about being a grandfather is a good one. And these days, my physical appearance much more fits the elder role.
But I was Dad long before I was Grandpa, and that’s something in which I take great pride.
The truth is being a grandfather is relatively easy. You get to have a lot of the fun, and very little of the real responsibility. You can break the rules with limited impunity, discipline is something you let the parents worry about, and “No” is a concept you treat with the same disdain you had for it as a kid.
Being a Dad is much different. Sure, you get to have fun and enjoy those special moments with your children, creating memories that will last not only your lifetime but hopefully theirs as well. But being a Dad (and in fact, being a parent today) is an awesome and heavy responsibility.
I look back at the four generations of Dads I have known in my own family. My grandfather was a hard-working immigrant who spent nearly a decade away from his family in Portugal before he could bring them to America. He was a good man, but had a hard shell. He was a farmer and worked in the maintenance crew at Wheaton College. He commanded respect, and always received it from his children.
My Dad was the first of his family to go to college. He inherited his father’s work ethic, often toiling at three different jobs while also going to school. We knew growing up he loved us, but he was not exactly warm and fuzzy. Late in his life, he would shake my hand whenever we saw each other. I would embarrass him with a hug and kiss.
I was not dissimilar from them both when I entered the fatherhood fraternity, particularly regarding time spent providing financially. I worked hard to try and give my kids the life they deserved, as well as the opportunity to go to college. My pride at their graduations was boundless. And thanks to my wife (the best parent I have ever met) I was at least somewhat visible and active in their lives growing up.
Today both my sons are dads. And I watch in utter amazement and joy at how they have not only accepted the role, but made it their own. They are more than just wonderful parents. In my eyes they reflect everything a Dad should be, which at the risk of sounding sexist or prejudiced, is different from what a parent should be.
They are so involved in every aspect of the lives of their children. They are constantly in the schools, always know everything their kids did that day, and provide the best kind of example for those young minds. Their patience makes me proud, while at the same time making me ashamed of the lack of same I often remember exhibiting back when they were young.
They both married strong women, true partners in their lives. They have built families on a foundation of love, with the emphasis on all the right things. They demonstrate strength when needed, gentleness when necessary, and are smart enough to recognize when each is called for.
If you judge a Dad by how his children turn out, then I will get much more credit than I deserve. My sons are awesome people, and sensational parents. And there is no shaking hands when we get together. We never let each other go without a hug and kiss.
“You’re never too old to kiss your father”, I told them at a very early age. And they have never hesitated, even through those awkward and sensitive school years.
I have so many moments from being a dad that I treasure. And the good news is – I’m not done collecting them.
Aaron and Nate, thank you for learning from my mistakes and maybe picking up a rare good thing or two. Happy Father’s Day to everyone, especially the two best Dads I know.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a proud Dad. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.