A FATHER’S SON
The two things that forever changed how I saw my Father had nothing to do with him. Growing up and having kids. Before that, he was an icon that thankfully lived long enough to become human. I know my son and daughter will have their ideas about me and the life I provided. I can only pray it is with the grace that only time can give. The same grace I give to the idea of my Father.
If you grow up with a dad in the house, he is the idea. Either of who you want to be or never turn out like. You'll crave his attention or pray he leaves you alone. He will have faults, but as a kid, what you think about this grown man that is responsible for you doesn't matter cause you don't know him. You feel life should be a certain way and how you see him is based on how you see life. Not who he really is; you have no idea as a kid. I didn't.
How could I know what it's like coming of age in the fifties and sixties? My dad was raised in the Chicagoland area first generation out of the south. He was in the military during the Vietnam war and lived through at least nearly 50 percent of the 20th century. He grew up in a world dramatically different from the one I was born into. The one I was raised in. And he was a hero to me.
That was my idea of my Dad. A fighter, powerful, and exceptionally smart. Charming beyond belief. He had an intense calm that held back a force you could see despite his restraint. There was nothing like the image my Father represented to me in life.
I also wanted that for my son and daughter; I want to be their superhero. I want to be their Superman before the truth of my existence disappoints the ambitions they had for my abilities. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to disappoint them, but I know it's inevitable. Because they don't know me, and I can't leave up to their fantasy. I need to be human.
For me, one of the craziest realizations should have been obvious. I was growing up with parents who were growing up. They had their successes, joy, pain, and trauma from before I was born. They were facing the consequences of decisions I never knew they made. I didn't understand it till I got to the point in life where I had my own little ones.
I remember all the grand hopes and dreams I projected on my son at birth. Every day he proves how different we are in ways I'd hope we would be similar. And I see the likeness in things I hate he reflects. Children are not the only ones who project.
I never asked him, but I wonder what my dad saw when I came into the world. What hopes he had for the man I would become and the dreams he prayed I fulfill. I wonder if he ever felt I was hopeless or wished I listened to his pain in the hope I would avoid it in my life. I know I have so much of him inside of me. A lot of who he is I aim to be. But I'm afraid to ask how close I've come to nailing it.
I know without a doubt his idea about who I could be has manifested in my life in some ways. And my ideas about him gave me what I needed to be the best man I could be. Mirrors reflect even when they're dirty. Because we don't need to see a perfect image of a man. We just need to see a man.