Today’s entry in the #40Days40Dads project turns the concept on its ear, as a son answers the questions about his father. He prefers to remain anonymous, but I will call him the Professor, as he was the greatest professor I had in college.1 Read his touching remembrance of his father below.
#25: The Professor
The Professor’s father was the dad of two sons and a daughter for 30 years before he passed away.
What was the moment when you first felt like a father?
I have the sense that my dad just did what he had to do without stopping to think too much about it. He had a great equanimity as a person. The pictures of him holding me, and then my younger brother and sister, when we were all babies, you can definitely see in his face that he likes this dad thing. But I honestly think that our real relationships with our father really got their own footings as we were older and became our own people, if you will. One of my favorite things now is to happen upon letters that he wrote to his mother and then to his sister that talk about us.
What’s your favorite part about being a father?
I think he would say he loved it all, except maybe when we asked for money. For me, it was getting to see him not be a father — watching him do his job and interact with people. I probably learned more from him in those situations than I did around the house.
What’s the hardest part about being a father?
He would never have said this, but I am sure that the times that we disappointed him or let him down were the hardest, even more than when we angered him.
What’s the dumbest/funniest thing that your kid has cried about or fought with you over?
I was living in Kansas City. He had retired early from his job and I think was driving my mom a little nuts, plus he hadn’t had a real vacation in a while. I had just bought a new car and had vacation coming, so we decided to take a weeklong driving trip, just the two of us. We had some loose goals, but no firm agenda. I got mad at him a couple of days in (I submit that the flashpoint was legitimate) and stopped speaking to him (not legitimate). I made the last two or three days of the trip very unpleasant for him. We got beyond it, but I never apologized to him for it and oh my goodness do I wish all the time that I had.
What are you most proud of having taught/shared with your kids or what are you most looking forward to teaching/sharing with them?
He was immensely proud of all three of us always. That was always a given, always understood and clear without needing express communication. I went into his line of work, and I know that he was particularly pleased about that. He died before I went into his ‘other’ line — teaching — and I know he would have been over the moon about that, especially because I ended up teaching at his alma mater.
What’s your favorite thing about your kids?
I think his favorite thing was that we were his kids.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice when you first became a father, what would you say?
He would joke here and say, ‘Don’t do it!’ Or, ‘Sell them! Give them away!’ But he wouldn’t mean it. His gentle humor was probably his greatest asset as a co-raiser-of-children.
Any other comments to share on fatherhood?
He will have been gone 21 years in May, and sometimes we miss him a lot and sometimes we miss him a little, but the bottom line is that we miss him all the time. Still. He was a good dad to have.
If you’re a father or you know a father who would like to share his story, send him to this link to answer the questions. Stay tuned for another dad’s crib notes tomorrow!