When my siblings and I were growing up, my mom used to send one of us in the store with our father, with the rest of our crew waited patiently in the car for him to pay for gas. Why? To encourage him to hurry back out to the car and remind him that there were a number of people waiting for his return. My father had the uncanny ability to meet someone and find some shred of commonality, either in places where they lived, knowing someone in common, or simply sharing the fact that both of them were living, breathing humans.
These conversations could go on and on, my father losing himself in the conversation and plugging into some alternative universe where his family is trapped in the uncertainty of station wagon limbo. Our job in going into the store with him was simply to provide a visual reminder that he had a family, they loved him, and anxiously awaited his return so that our lives could continue on to our next destination.
Now here’s where it gets weird. Picture this. I’m with one of my sons and we stop at a quick-stop for gas and then go inside to grab a drink or snack. I step up to the counter to pay and smile at the cashier. I start to engage the person in small-talk (sound familiar). And then, out of no where, someone says, “Have a short day.” Wait, what?!? Who the devil said that? I look to my son, hoping that he heard the same thing and caught the person uttering this. He did. I raise and eyebrow at him and he smiles and shakes his head. Guilty.
I’ve become my father. It’s becoming more common now, with comments from my kids, “You sound like grandpa.” Well, in all fairness, I am a grandpa. I’ve graduated. Genetics and upbringing have consumed me and I’ve become what I’ve been destined to become — my father. And you know what, I’m cool with it.
My father taught me the most important lessons in my life. Many times these lessons were learned through his everyday treatment of others — especially in his treatment of my mother. He made it clear that she was the number one his list and that we needed to treat her the same way. He had expectations of us, more so they were just default expectations that didn’t need to address in words — graduate from high school, get a job, raise a family, treat your wife with respect, your family is the core unit, protect them, provide for them, and always buy a stick of salami for family gatherings (my kids get this) — you know, the basics.
Now that I’ve punched the 50-year old time clock, I seem to be developing more and more ‘grandpa’ traits. I may not notice them myself, but my kids notice — I see the smiles and hear little snickers. But again, I’m cool with it. I actually think that my wife thinks that they are kinda cute, and she really likes my dad; win-win.
So, to my father, “Thanks Pop. I’m digging your club and glad to be a member, pass the salami.”