I’m a big fan of dads.
I have a good one, I’m married to a good one, I gained a good one by marriage, in fact, I’m related to a lot of good dads.
Last weekend I was at a family reunion where I was surrounded by an impressive grouping of good dads.
Everywhere I turned dads were chasing toddlers, monitoring teens, changing diapers, feeding faces, tossing Frisbees, balls, babies and so on.
Dads are much more hands-on these days which is “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” far beyond the significance of a moonwalk.
Interestingly, the theme of the family reunion was a tribute to a dad in my ancestry: my paternal grandfather. He was a hands-on dad in a different way, as in you towed the line or got his “hands-on” your person in painful ways.
It was a different era.
Parenting was different.
Times were tough, money was tight and there was much to be done on a small ranch in a harsh environment that had to support a family of eight, so there was little tolerance for idling or insubordination. Grandpa did what he had to in order to get things done and, right or wrong, it did produce an impressive result of tight-knit kin who are hard workin’, straight talkin’ and deep lovin’.
At the reunion, I learned a lot about Grandpa I didn’t know because, truth be told, I mostly tried to stay out of swatting distance from him growing up. Each family unit was assigned to perform a skit of a favorite memory of Grandpa and I was put in charge of my family’s submission. I racked my brain, but struggled to come up with a recollection that wasn’t just Grandpa Gruff. At the last minute, I settled upon the mildest scene I could think of and procured a presentation.
I needn’t have worried as each skit was presented and proved the memory file for Grandpa was common.
My aunt and uncle acted out a scene where they proudly presented their newborn baby girl to Grandpa and he responded with, “That’s the ugliest @#%$ baby I’ve ever seen!”
My family portrayed the scene when my sister brought her fiancé to the ranch to meet Grandpa and his first words to him upon introduction were, “Get outta my chair!”
Another skit was of the exchange between Grandpa and his new father-in-law when he discovered he’d eloped with his daughter. Great Grandpa said, “You didn’t ask me to get married,” to which Grandpa replied, “I didn’t want to marry you!”
Everyone chortled and related.
There were also sentimental tributes highlighting his legacy of hard work, satiric sayings and family devotion. Despite his rough exterior, we all love and appreciate his core values and enjoy his characteristic quirks.
He did the best he knew how, which is what most dads try to do.
I admit the whole thing got me thinking about how my posterity might portray me in skit form someday. It will probably be revealing, embarrassing and endearing—just as it should be.
If I haven’t given my family mock-worthy fodder for future laughs then I will have failed in my life’s work.