Fathers don't always look like they used to years ago; there are gay dads and
stay-at-home-dads and divorced co-parenting dads and single dads, among
others. But there's one thing just about all dads do -- teach us lifelong
lessons (although some of us may have seen them as lectures).
With Father's Day approaching, IJ readers share the best lesson their father taught them. Below are our favories; more are online at www.marinij.com.
When I was a child, my father was my hero. Dad bandaged my knees when I fell from roller-skating over cracks in the sidewalk, told me I would be all right when I panicked at piano recitals, and later, comforted me when my heart was broken by my first love.
However, his greatest lesson to me was not to come until he was almost 90 years old.
My mother had been showing signs of dementia, but he was always there protecting her from her growing distractions. When she was finally unable to live at home, he went to live at the same facility where she was. His mind was always good, although 90-some years of living had weakened his body. He traveled endless halls in his wheelchair from his little apartment to be with her from late morning until he tucked her into bed at night. The love of his life kept him going until he could go no more.
He really was a hero, in the quiet way that heroes sometimes are, no cannons firing, bombs falling or shots in the night. This quiet kind of courage is often the most difficult -- his greatest lesson to me.
-- Sharalee Schwarzbart, San Rafael
* * *
My father came to this country in 1938 from Italy. He wore his pajama tops on deck because that was the nicest article of clothing he owned. During World War II he worked during the day as a cabinetmaker and at night at Marinship in Sausalito building Liberty Ships.
My Dad taught me that you can never do enough for your country or your family. His entire life was spent doing things for others. He was kind, thoughtful, but above all, generous. He taught me these attributes by example. He passed on to me his generous heart and when he did something wonderful for someone, you could always see a tear in his eyes because doing things for others is what made him happy.
Now I do the same for my five boys and two grandchildren. I am certain that they will carry on the tradition to theirs.
-- Bob Guelfi, Novato
* * *
"Time for mushroom hunting."
That's the best lesson my dad taught me.
Springtime in rural Nebraska -- river bottoms full of the hidden treasure of wild morel mushrooms. Dad would wake us early, tempt us with hot pancakes, pile us in the car, boots on, buckets ready.
My dad knew the secret spots -- crevices in the roots of trees, a certain leaf formation that concealed the tasty gems. He taught us to walk carefully, picking just so with gentle handling of the moist, delicate mushrooms. How to hunt for wild mushrooms -- a precious lesson! With life's greater lessons imbedded in the moment: "Take care not to damage other plants." "Always leave some for others." "Help your little brother find some!"
And the most profound lesson for my dad to share -- the gift of time. Time with my patient, humorous father. Time to wander, walk, talk, laugh --
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