Lately, I have done a lot of thinking about my dad. He died more than eleven years ago. I don't think about how much I miss him or even about memories that I have of him. Lately, my thoughts are about how much I am becoming him. As I look down at myself this morning and see a pair of brown shoes, khaki pants, a button down shirt, and a stomach that is beginning to protrude, I see him. Often, when I am getting dressed in the morning or when I think about my clothes, I think of him. I think of how we would go to Hudson's to shop for school clothes. Mom would take Joe to the Genera section and Dad and I would head off to the Boundary Waters department. We would buy khakis, jeans, sweaters and button-down shirts. I think I probably just wanted to be like my dad.
I think about dad too when I love my boys and and sometimes when I don't love them very well. I think about how difficult it must have been to be away from us as much as he was. I think about what he felt when he made the decisions he made. I think about the decisions that I am making. I think about what it means to provide for my family. I think about what it means to discipline my boys and how to love them best. Sometimes I think about what he must have felt as he held me or my brother and sister in his arms; what it must have been like to watch us grow up.
Mom always said very cliché things about how I wouldn't understand my parents until I was a parent myself. I don't think this is completely true but there is some perspective that having four people in my life that I am accountable for and that need me brings.
As I grow and work at being a better father and husband, I keep the success and failures of my father at the forefront of my mind. I also try and believe that life is not graded on a curve. The goal of my life is not to simply not make the mistakes my father did or to achieve the successes my father did. There is a higher standard: one of which I always fall short.