It’s Father’s Day here, and I’m lucky enough that I can still celebrate with my father. I’ve been thinking it must be hard to be a father, because you have so much responsibility and you’re expected to be the strong, invulnerable one. At least, that’s how my father has always been. So this Father’s Day, I wanted to say some things about him.
1. We have very few mutual interests and our tastes are generally opposite. If he likes it, it usually pains me, and if I like it, it definitely irritates him. He enjoys classical music concerts and plays like Strindberg’s Dance of Death. I like “horrible music,” sports and movies with Matt Damon or George Clooney.
2. Except we both like the Chicago Bears. But I got that from him.
3. He’s practically a genius, and definitely a polymath. That’s another thing we don’t have in common. When I was struggling through Latin in middle school, he still remembered it from his own school days, 40 years earlier. He has designed and built home additions, and he can learnedly discuss the sources of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil or the victory chances of a particular political candidate. And he’s a talented artist.
4. He has always loved to drive, but he fancies himself “a race car driver.” (His actual words.) I remember practically praying for survival on “vacations” as our car whipped and slipped around winding mountain roads with no guardrails. One station wagon did end up on its side in a ditch in Wisconsin, but luckily the glaciers had been there first, so there were no mountains to crash down.
5. But apart from the hellacious driving, my father has always done the right thing, not the easy thing. He’s always up for new experiences. He’s always treated strangers as friends. He’s always thought everyone is equal. He’s always had a fierce social conscience. He’s always taken care of the extended family, from the oldest to the youngest. He’s never called attention to anything about himself, or wanted a fuss made. He’s just a really good person.