My Dad wasn’t exactly comfortable using the Internet. Watching him wrestle with a computer mouse was akin to John Wayne attempting needle point.
Dad read my work online all the same, taking pride in his son’s thoughts beaming across the Web.
So it’s odd to start my own Daddy Blog knowing my Father will never read an entry. He passed this time last year, finally succumbing to a long battle with blood cancer. The details of his disease never sunk in for me. I knew it was chronic, untreatable and eventually fatal. What else was there to know?
It’s funny how close I’ve felt to my Dad over the last year all the same. We don’t have our weekly phone calls anymore, time spent dissecting the latest Yankees news, movie reviews or political issues he’d pounce on like a “Meet the Press” pundit. I hear and see him all the same, sometimes so clearly it makes my eyes moist. In short, I’ve become him.
It’s not just the mannerisms, the way I affectionately tug my son Ben’s ear like my own Dad did, a grandfather luxuriating in the sensation of an infant’s soft skin and the bond between generations. The echoes are more profound and inescapable. I hear myself scolding my child and hearken back to my Father saying something similar to me. My short-fuse temper fades now like a lightning flash when my children misbehave, just as my Father’s would when my antics merited a parental speech.
A child doesn’t just mimic his father’s actions, like the way he hikes up his pants while dressing or yells during a playoff game as if the referee was watching, and waiting, before making the call.
The modeling is more intense and long lasting.
A Facebook friend reminded me of this recently when I sent out a note asking for tips on creating a Daddy blog. She talked about how her own children mirror the marvelous behavior of her husband and what a gift it is to have someone like him in all their lives. It was the kind of exchange that reminds me social media isn’t just about Farmville and divisive political jibes.
Growing up, I took it for granted that my Father battled other parents to get that toy I simply had to have on Christmas morning, taught me how to throw a baseball the right way and gave me dating tips that led me to the love of my life.
I don’t take his gifts for granted any longer.
(Photo: That’s my father, center, alongside his two boys. I’m the small-shouldered lad dressed in red. Brother Jim is on the right.)