Yesterday being Father’s Day, I was reflecting upon the ways that my dad has positively impacted my life. In many ways there is no denying that I am his progeny: I often sound like him, some people think I look like him (though I disagree), and I have similar dreams and aspirations for my life because of the model that he set through his life’s actions. In short, I am the man that I am today because of my dad, and for that I am truly grateful.
My mom and dad divorced when I was young, over 25 years ago, resulting in a somewhat distant relationship with my dad. We spent time together, but not growing up in the same household definitely created a void between us that otherwise would not have been there if we had lived together.
Of the memories that I have before the divorce, I remember my dad reading to me at night. I can recall nightly readings of The Chronicles of Narnia, specifically The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I learned what I couldn’t watch on TV: The Smurfs, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Inspector Gadget. Relating to sports, Dad taught me how to box. He came home from a trip wielding two pairs of boxing gloves, a pair for him and a pair for me. He laced up the gloves on my little hands, put his gloves on, and showed me how to stand: “Okay, you ready?” A quick jab to my face and I was down for the count. “That’s it, I quit.” That was the end of my boxing career. Years later, my dad would teach me how to play racquetball in a similar fashion, although I didn’t quit that time.
If there is one character trait that I have learned by watching my dad’s behavior over the years, it has been persistence. Night after night, month after month, year after year, he toiled and labored at getting educated. He worked hard to get a bachelor’s degree, an M.B.A., and a doctorate, along the way earning another master’s degree. He became an ordained minister, was a 30-year employee at Boeing’s Gresham plant (he retired a couple of years ago), and became a respected professor at Warner Pacific.
I look at my dad’s educational pursuits and I see those same aspirations and dreams buried deep inside of me–after all, he can’t be the only “Doc Martin.” However, time will tell if I indeed have the same level of persistence that he has.
My dad is an avid and tenacious reader. His library easily contains over 1,000 books, and he has passed the love of reading on to me. Every Christmas, he gives me a book, writing a little note about what the book meant to him. Some of my favorites have been The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Some of the books I haven’t read yet, but one day I will. My favorite note was found in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, given to me on my 14th birthday:
December 22, 1992
You are the son I’ve always wanted. I am glad you enjoy reading. I hope that this desire will stay with you all of your life. But always remember, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
I love you.
Some of my fondest memories with my dad are when we would see action films in the theater. Die Hard and Under Siege I explicitly remember, mainly because of him covering my eyes in a few parts involving brief nudity. I guess I can blame him for loving action films. He never complained when I would wear out the Time Bandits and Little Monsters tapes either, which was nice of him, because both of those films are random and strange.
I have made a lot of bad decisions in my life, and my dad has never stopped caring for me (even if he has a hard time showing it). He drove me around Seattle looking for an apartment while I was going to the University of Washington, he visited as often as he could while I tried to figure out my college career, and when I dropped out of college to be in a rock band, he did his fatherly duty by letting me know that he disapproved, and yet loved me all the same.
Perhaps the life-changing event that I can credit to my dad is becoming a Christian. While not knowing what I was doing with my life after the rock band fell apart, he invited me to go on a two-week trip of Israel and Jordan. That trip would be the catalyst for the life and path that I am now on. If I would never have gone on that trip, I would not be a Christian today, I would never have met my best friend and mentor, I would not have met my wife, and I probably wouldn’t have finished college or desired to further my education. The trip to Israel and Jordan wasn’t easy, he would learn some things about me, particularly that I cannot be swayed until I make up my own mind. He desperately wanted me to get baptized in the Sea of Galilee and I refused. I told him that I would get baptized when I was ready and when it truly meant something. Location didn’t matter to me, it was the intent and meaning behind the action. A few years later I did get baptized, and he was right there, one of the happiest times I have ever seen him.
I have learned a lot from my dad and I have fought for a relationship with him for over 25 years. I never gave up on him and I see that he never gave up on me either. I guess I did learn persistence from him after all.