“Hey Dad, why haven’t you been riding?”
He was right. I had skipped my normal early morning Saturday ride two weeks in a row, one due to a softball tournament and that day’s ride skipped due to a headache. I was feeling sluggish and fat, a bit burned out. My body had been telling me to slow down a bit, so I was doing just that. And Nate noticed. The way he asked the question told me that he wasn’t asking to stick it to me, it was because he was concerned. My riding is something he admires about me, perhaps more than I thought. His noticing that I missed a ride tells me that he does.
It makes me wonder what else he is watching. That little question raised a mental eyebrow. All fathers know that what they do influences their children. We just forget that at times.
My dad smoked. His carton of cigarettes were always stashed under the seat of his pickup truck, but he never smoked in the house. This was during the day and age when it seemed like everyone smoked, when cigarette commercials were on television. We never had alcohol in the house and as far as I knew my dad never took a drink of alcohol except for once, when his doctor suggested he have a sip for his stomach. When he got a bottle of premium liquor for Christmas, he took it back to the liquor store.
Dad fixed the family cars, built the houses we lived in, counseled couples struggling with divorce, stood strong in his marriage even when it wasn’t easy. He also swung a mean baseball bat when we played softball together. His family was the most important part of his life, but he also was an extremely loyal employee. I heard him come in late from work many a night.
I think I noticed what my own father did. That says a lot about what my children are going to remember about me when they are my age.
Of course, my father only had to deal with boys. My two brothers and I learned a lot from him. I have a sixteen year old daughter. That little Facebook message is one she posted on my page the other night.
Dad, you need to do this.
She leaves me a lot of messages like that. Funny thing is that I sometimes don’t feel right about the time I take to write because it seems like it’s taking my attention away from my family. But my daughter likes that I write because she likes to do the same thing. It’s our thing. Knowing that keeps me writing, even when it seems like my writing is terrible, because I know she admires that I write. You need to do this means so much to me.
I know she watches me, watches how I treat her mother, which isn’t always good. I’m loyal. I try to be patient with my wife. That is what I hope my daughter sees, not where I fail with her mother. I know that I do. I wonder what she will say about that 10, 15, 20 years from now.
They are watching. I am glad my kids remind me of that. I need to know that I am making a difference, that they notice the good in me.
When they do notice, it makes me want to call my dad, tell him thanks for giving me so many good things to notice. I know from him what my own children will remember about me.