14 hours ago
Today is my father's birthday. My Dad is a very complex man. There have been periods of my life when we really didn't understand each other or communicate much but he has always been an all important figure in my life. He is a very macho and hard working guy. He believes in traditional roles and traditional values, which is ironic since only one out of four of his children has really lived that kind of life. I love the picture above because it is a great contrast between my Dad the cowboy and Kai the city boy. I have 3 stories I'd like to share that I think reflect my Dad's different aspects.
The Hardworking Dad: I rode to Chicago with Dad years ago to drop my brother off at college. We got there and immediately turned around and headed home. We stopped around midnight at a cheap hotel. He woke me up at 5:00 A.M. and said it was time to move. I said it's 5:00 A.M. and he said "ya, well all we're doing is laying here."
The Crazy Dad: This story is what is known in my family as the Toilet Paper Caper and it best reflects the insanity of the man. My younger sister moved home for a year in between finishing her undergraduate degree and starting her graduate degree to save some money. For the first 3 months my mother was constantly complaining to my father that they were going through toilet paper so much more quickly. Her quote was "that girl must have the cleanest butt in 3 counties." My father then hatched a plan and started hiding toilet paper. He would take a few rolls each week and stash them in his storage shed so that Mom was buying TP several times a week. This went on for the rest of the year. After my sister moved out he then started bringing out the TP and putting it in the bathroom closet so that there was a constant supply. My mother went for several months without buying any TP and still hadn't made the connection. Finally my Dad told my Uncle who couldn't stand it so he asked my Mom when she had bought TP last and the gig was up. Only my father could carry on such a silly prank for almost a year without telling anyone. If you look at his face in this picture of him giving Ani a wedgie you can see how much he loves tormenting people.
The Caring Dad: When I was in my mid-twenties I was going through a really bad depression. I rarely left my dreary apartment except to go to work. I would force myself to go to the farm once a month to watch TV with my Mom, listen to my parents bicker, and have some normalcy. When I would get in my car to leave I would often find a little something in the passenger seat waiting for me. Once it was my favorite candy bar, once a rose, and once an old brass candle holder that looked like it had been rescued from an antique auction. I asked my Mom about it and she had no idea. I never talked to my Dad about it but it is something I've never forgotten. It was his way of saying that he knew I was going through a hard time and he wanted me to know that he was thinking about me. He is not a man that expresses his feelings much but he will find a way.
When you are young you don't think about your parents as complex people who make mistakes sometimes. You see things in black and white but as an adult I can see all the vivid colors that make up my Dad.