Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

My earliest memory of my father is when he was in his late 20s, and took me with him to pick up a new 1974 Chevy Impala. I was three years-old at the time, so the memory is not much more than an image and an emotion, but the image is of me looking out the front window from the passenger seat, and the emotion was pride—as if I had bought the car—and seeing Mom come outside as we pulled into our house in Pensacola, FL.

(Funny side story: Dad got in BIG trouble with Mom for not bringing her car shopping.)

Dad was in the U.S. Navy for my entire childhood, and couldn’t always be there for my sister Lori and me, but I knew he wanted to. When he was home, he assumed the role of “Dad” perfectly: he played with us when we were good and disciplined us when we weren’t so good. When he was away on some months-long deployment, he’d write us letters telling us he loved us, and always buy us things from whatever country in which the U.S.S. Nimitz was in port.

One of my favorite memories is standing on the pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, waiting for the Nimitz. I was about seven at the time, but even to a full-grown adult a Nimitz-class nuclear carrier is a gigantic thing to behold. The tradition was for all the sailors to be on deck, in their Navy whites, waving to the crowd below. For Lori and me, it was a game of trying to pick out Daddy. At that distance, though, it was futile. But we had no problem picking him out when he came off the ship, and as we ran into his arms screaming “DAAAADDY!” We let Mom get her hug and kiss in eventually.

As I got older, I played the role of the typical stupid, long-haired rebellious teenager, and got into a lot of trouble with the law. Once this required a court appearance where I had a lawyer and there was a prosecuting attorney whose job was to sentence me. I was acquitted, but I’ll never forget who was standing beside me, supporting me, the whole time: my straitlaced, military-bred Dad.

Dad has been an amazing father to me, as well as an incredible husband to my mother. If I end up being half the man he is, I’ll feel I’ve done a good job in this life.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

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