Looking Out My Back Window #361

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Originally posted on Facebook HERE

Father’s Day today. I never wanted to have kids. Most of my life I wasn’t really very comfortable around kids at all, really. I didnt have any brothers or sisters around when I was growing up. I always said, “I’ll have kids when you can put them away until they’re teenagers — because I don’t want to deal with any diapers, or sticky anything, or cheese sandwiches stuck in the VCR”… etc, etc, etc… then I met Laurie, who would later become my wife. She had three kids and two cats at the time (I’m extremely allergic to cats). Two of the biggest red flags you could possibly have thrown at me back then, but… the kids were 12, 14 and 16 years old at the time. Heck, I was only 35 myself. And — I started to think about what I always said about having kids when you could put them away until they were teenagers, and — wow. Didn’t think that one would actually come to fruition. I had to learn on the fly how to be a stepfather. I was kinda pleased that I skipped over the whole poopy diapers thing until one day Laurie came home, all beaming and smiles — to let me know her daughter was pregnant. Grandkids! Damn… I thought I was out… but there would be babies and kids in my future. Any sticky stuff. And messes. And… what the heck did I know about doing any of this? Nothing. I knew nothing. I knew that I absolutely loved my own father. He was 48 when I was born — coincidentally, that’s the same age I was when my grandson was born. He’s 17 now, and I’ll be 65 in August. Same age differential between us as I had with my father going the other way. And a few years prior to my birth, my father had lost a son who was hit by lightening on a golf course and killed at age 14. In the six months around the death of his son, his first wife, mother, and father also passed away. Wow. I wish he was here right now. He died in 1981, at the heart of my own drug and alcohol abuse. He was 70 years old. I was 22. I never had any sober adult years with him, since I started using drugs and alcohol when I was 14. I was 29 when I quit. So, what was it that made me love him so much? As the years pass by, my memories of who he was, and what he was like fade more and more… man, what I would give for just an hour — even ten minutes with him right now. He was a hard worker. German. Worked 42 years for one company, you don’t see that very often these days. Great sense of humor — maybe a bit of a wise guy at times. Loyal. Loved dogs, NFL football (Packers) and golf. I knew he loved me. I’m not really sure how, but I just knew — in that way that guys know things, I guess. Not so much that we actually said the words “I love you” out loud, you know? But we knew… and, man… when he died… It wasn’t in any way expected. I was living in Milwaukee, out at the bars, and when I got home there was a message to call my mom (no cell phones back then). People were heading to our house (band house) for an after-bar party, I called my mom to find out my dad died that night from a heart attack. We had just worked out the song “People Who Died” that day with the band I was in at the time (Ice-9). They refused to ever play it again after that. I was the last person at the funeral home to see him in his casket before they closed it. The first major loss of my life. Devastating isn’t really the word, but as close as I can get. So… today, I thank him for bringing me into this world and helping me become the person that I am. Most of what I said about him above could easily be said about me as well. He’d be so proud to see me today. The business I built. The family we have. Where we live. And, I do my best to pass on the traits I think of when I think of my father to my stepkids and grandkids: Act with integrity. Work hard, play hard. Have a sense of humor. Let yourself feel emotions. Find work that you love. Take time to be creative. Be the best person you can be. And try to have fun along the way. Smile once in a while. As I get closer to age 70 myself… the reality of the brevity of life becomes a lot more real to me. Dad only lived 6 more years. I miss him. For God’s sake — if your father is still around and you can call him, or hug him, or celebrate this day with him, do that. It won’t last forever. And for you dads out there — I know several of you that I really look up to — have a great day today. Take time to appreciate it all. Make sure when the reflection of you comes back from your kids, it’s something you want to see. Thanks again, dad. My life is in no small part a reflection of what I got from you in the short time we had together.

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