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Fatherhood Matters

Sun Jun 19, 2005 Miss Vicky 

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there!

Unfortunately, Miss Vicky won't be spending the day with her father (known on this site as Slapshot)... we'll have our quality time at the family's Mill Lake homestead later this summer, though, and I'm looking forward to felling a few trees and perfecting my short game with my Dad.

But I wanted to let him know how much I appreciate him and all that he's given me. In particular, I have my father to thank for the following traits, habits, quirks and hobbies:

1) my patience (or lack thereof)
2) my love of nature (those early family walks through Cootes' Paradise in Hamilton, I imagine)
3) my running stride (according to my coach, it's pretty good - thought you'd like to hear that, Dad) and commitment to athleticism
4) my ability to communicate with canine friends
5) my golf swing (it took me a while to come around to golfing, but it's been a great father-daughter bonding tool in recent years)
6) the Squeejonk game, which I now play with nieces and nephew and other young friends
7) my campfire-building skills
8) my oh so hard to read "i'm getting annoyed" vibe
9) my ability to be silly
10)my thinning hair (damn you)
11) my commitment to family
12) my passion for my work and my drive to be a success

Now, like many folks of my generation, I have more than one father-figure in my life. My parents separated when I was 15, and both re-married... my Mom's second husband, Laurie, played an important role in my young adulthood, and although they are no longer remarried, we're still very close. For that I consider myself extremely fortunate.

I got to know Laurie (known here as westcoastflake) well when I was spending a lot of time on my "internal self". From him, I think, I learned the importance of giving to others, the value of listening, and how to look beyond the surface and find the best in difficult people and difficult situations. He has taught me a lot about compassion, and about self-forgiveness.

On Friday, my Mom got married again. She and Ellis have been together for a couple of years, and they are moving to Ottawa in two weeks. I guess they decided to make it official before they moved where I could keep a close eye on them..... Smart move, Ellis! Ellis has given me some very important gifts as well - in particular, he brought me back to swimming. And although my shoulder isn't cooperating right now, my reentry to the sport has been one of the best things in my life the last couple of years. Ellis has also taught me the importance of challenging yourself on a number of different fronts - physically, intellectually, politically. I am looking forward to having him here in Ottawa so I can get to know him a bit better.

Some people were moved to reply

Hugh Jun 19, 2005 08:37 PM said:

How fortunate you have been to have - 3 dads - and that you've experienced well.

My dad - killed himself over illness at age 53 when I was about to turn 12 - in 1943. I really hardly knew him.

I've never had children of my own.

Life is not so perfect for many people. But even the worst life has good times.

amckay Jun 19, 2005 09:15 PM said:

I have an awful lot to thank my pop for, too. Probably the most important is the need to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves - though I realise I sometimes come across here as some right-wing extremist. I guess it's the need to call a spade a spade, and the need to question everything that I also learned from him which causes me to do exactly that. All traits I feel make me a better person.

Pop also taught me about honesty. I remember once when my brother bought a pair of CCM Tacks at Canadian Tire, he got home and noticed that they'd accidentally given him Super Tacks but he'd paid for Tacks. Of course they went back to the store to exchange for the Tacks. One other time I found $20 in a parking lot in Antigonish while there with pop, and we went to the police station to turn it in just in case the person who lost it needed it more than us. That's when I also learned that police can be corrupt when 2 months later pop checked back in and the money had disappeared yet nobody had come to claim it.

He also taught me a great deal about respect. He respected me enough that I'd like to say he never once spanked me. But that's not true - I did get it once at the cottage after a friend and I destroyed my brother's cabin. I deserved it. Later as a teenager pop sat me down for a serious discussion in which he had one simple request : "when you are going around with your friends, please don't refer to me as 'the old man'". He'd already long-since earned my respect enough that I wouldn't have done that anyway, but I took his request to heart and took extra care to never refer to him in a disrespectful manner.

As a recent pop myself the last few years, I feel a great deal of responsibility in teaching my kids the same important ideals which my pop taught me. The world has changed a fair bit in the meantime, and the expression of those ideals may not be the same as it was with my pop, but I am proud to say that what he taught me rings true today, and is something I will proudly teach my kids.

Being a parent really changed me. While I've always felt the need to help others and to right wrongs, having kids make me see the injustice in the world and allows me to feel it from the point of view of "what if that were my kids". It suddenly becomes exceptionally difficult to separate myself from the situation. It's a shame there are apparantly so many people out there who lack this simle compassion. Obviously most of them are parents, too, but somehow they've managed to separate themselves from their humanity. I'm so greatful to my pop that this is one thing I am unable to do, even if I were to try.

accidental altruist Jun 20, 2005 11:12 AM said:

amckay... i wouldn't assume that so many people have "separate[d] themselves from their humanity" simply because their version of "humanity" doesn't mirror your own.


as a post father's day gesture, try this on for size:

(from how to build a global community)

Think of no one as "them" • Don’t confuse your comfort with your safety • Talk to strangers • Imagine other cultures through their poetry and novels • Listen to music you don't understand • Dance to it • Act locally• Notice the workings of power and privilege in your culture • Question consumption • Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown: wake up and smell the exploitation • Look for fair trade and union labels • help build economies from the bottom up • Acquire few needs • Learn a second (or third) language • Visit people, places and cultures -- not tourist attractions • Learn people's history • Re-define progress • Know physical and political geography • Play games from other cultures • Watch films with subtitles • Know your heritage • Honor everyone's holidays • Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too • Read the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights • Understand the global economy in terms of people, land and water • Know where your bank banks • Never believe you have a right to anyone else's resources • Refuse to wear corporate logos: defy corporate domination • Question military/corporate connections • Don't confuse money with wealth, or time with money • Have a pen/email pal • Honor indigenous cultures • Judge governance by how well it meets all people's needs • Be skeptical about what you read • Eat adventurously • Enjoy vegetables, beans and grains in your diet • Choose curiosity over certainty • know where your water comes from and where your wastes go • Pledge allegiance to the earth: question nationalism • Think South, Central and North -- there are many Americans • Assume that many others share your dreams • Know that no one is silent though many are not heard • Work to change this

amckay Jun 20, 2005 12:41 PM said:

amckay... i wouldn't assume that so many people have "separate[d] themselves from their humanity" simply because their version of "humanity" doesn't mirror your own.

Yeah, I got busted for that on a 3rd year philosophy paper, actually. We're all by definition human and therefore represent an aspect of humanity. Invoking godwin, I will state that by this theory hitler was an a-ok humanist.

:-)

accidental altruist Jun 20, 2005 04:04 PM said:

Quirk's exception to Godwin's Law:

Intentional invocation of this so-called "Nazi Clause" is ineffectual.


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