By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Yes We Can
I admit to feeling a little lonely every Father’s Day. I’m not a father to small humans myself (though I love my dogs), and it’s been 13 years since Dad passed, but in looking through old photos this morning, I was reminded of how important the relationship between a father and son is.
Some of my earliest memories of my father were him coming home from the college after work. Dad had the “firm but fair” image in the classroom, but to me, he was the big friend who would play Star Wars toys with me (voices and all), and let me crawl all over him on the weekends when all he wanted to do was sleep in.
“Play with me,” I’d poke at him while sitting on his back.
“Okay,” he said. “I’m pretending I’m a rock.”
So I’d climb on “Mount Dad” on Saturdays, and we both mostly got what we wanted.
Dad always took interest in what I was doing, and would often ask me to explain my toys or games to him, and he’d just listen. I think he just liked hearing about the stories I’d share, or simply indulged my creativity. Dad always let me be me.
As I became a young adult, our relationship changed. I saw him as one of my best friends, and I’d tell him everything. Sometimes I’d overshare, he’d narrow his eyes at me for some of my late night misadventures, and I’d be reminded to better mind my responsibilities.
After Dad passed, I’ve thought about how much he tried to keep me safe from all the harms of the world. He hurt when I hurt, and in those times when I wasn’t able to defend myself, he was right there beside me to provide extra support. As you get older, you realize that parents aren’t some superhuman entity who can save the day every time. They’re just people with their own mistakes and frailties and insecurities. But they try to be more for their children, and never really stop trying. I remember really starting to see my parents as “just people.” It added a different dynamic to our relationship. It made it more real.
I remember one particular phone conversation with my dad a few months before he passed. I was still living in San Diego, and it was regular for the both of us to talk on the phone daily to keep up with other’s week.
“So what’s going on today,” I asked in starting our usual conversation.
“Not much,” he said. “I’ve just been sitting outside on the back patio watching a spider weave its web.”
“All morning,” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve just enjoyed sitting here and watching it. It’s really something.”
It wasn’t what he was doing that made me remember that conversation. It’s how he said it. He seemed peaceful, more than any recent call I could remember. In that moment, he seemed to just be at peace with everything in his life at that particular moment.
It was just a few short months later that he was diagnosed with cancer.
One of the last things Dad really asked of me before he passed is to finally do something with my writing.
“You have such a gift with words,” he said. “Please don’t waste your talent.”
For a few years after he passed, I stuck with my film and entertainment career. He would have been fine with it. He kept every related article, photo and e-mail I ever sent him in a folder on his computer desktop. But eventually, I did shift more of my time and skill into writing.
But here I am. Finally writing full-time. And it’s about Father’s Day and a series of 13-year old conversations. To say he doesn’t still play an influence, a regular reminder in my life today, wouldn’t be accurate. He had his own dreams and goals for me. I had my own ideas. And for today, I’ve found something in between.
Dads come in all shapes and sizes. Some are biological. Some are the result of an adoption or mentorship. Some are uncles or older brothers. Some are mothers having to pull a dual role. From the perspective of my dogs, some are human. But they’re all human, just trying to make it through life like everyone else.
In the end, my father wasn’t one of my best friends. He was my best friend. And as long as I continue to keep writing, I’ll help his dreams alive as well.
Happy Father’s Day.
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