Dad was always sure he knew the way the world should work.
As I grew up, this annoyed me sometimes.
As I’ve aged, it has been such a comfort. I realize now it was a comfort even back then, although I was not wise enough to recognize that fact.
My father was not a man you would sit and talk business or politics with for hours. He did not really enjoy cracking a book open. Global warming did not interest him. Neither did the stock market.
His view of the world was simple and folksy. As I angsted over the nuances of a boyfriend’s tone or which details I would need for my final in world history, he had far less (or more, depending on how you look at it) important things on his mind.
Like whether I was eating my vegetables, at least one banana a day and had dessert. All, he felt, were somehow crucial to my growing up happy and healthy.
He wanted to know I had noticed the beauty of the sunset, the geese landing on our local pond, that the rose bushes had bloomed overnight.
He made sure my mother had yellow roses, which she had carried on their wedding day, for every special occasion and some random days in between those occasions.
His lawn was always perfectly mowed, his flower beds spaded, his yard weed-free.
He could cook better than any of the females in his house (and there were seven of us), so you did not want to try to best his salmon. But, bake him a lemon square or cookie of any variety and he lit up like a Christmas tree whether it was your best effort or a painful flop. Baking was the way to his heart.
I’ve written before in this space that while my father may not have been a successful businessman, he was an artist of life and beauty. When he told me I was beautiful, I saw it in his eyes. He believed it. Which made it easier for my angsty teenaged self to believe it was in me.
None of this is earth shattering. But being taught to appreciate food, drink, beauty, nature, hard work, caring gestures—this is world changing. This is what helps the world to be kinder, gentler, a nicer place to be. And that learning does not always have to come from the females of the world. Plenty of men do this well.
Here’s to all the fathers this Father’s Day who may not fit the traditional mold, but who bend it in the most beautiful way.
Those of you raised by one, married to one or rearing such a man have raised your glass already.