Carrol Vertrees: What’s that in the air? Oh, that must be sentiment
Carrol Vertrees June 23, 2012 3:36PM
Updated: February 26, 2013 2:40PM
It has been a week now, and my allergy is clearing up. Something caused my eyes to water several times, and I was not even near an onion.
Maybe it was a coincidence that this happened every time I read a Father’s Day card or e-mail note or answered the telephone and heard an offspring’s cheery voice.
No, not a coincidence. This old father was touched. I am happily weak that way.
I am too old to have a living father, but young enough to remember a dad whose hard, caring life made him special.
I think of the biblical comments about the sins of the father being visited on the son, and I adeptly revise it to remind me that the virtues of my dad were left for me to follow if I cared.
My father was not demonstrative. He possessed the simple virtues — he laughed, he cared, he encouraged, and of course the greatest of them all was the capacity to love — to share. He was a man of the soil, with limited education, but he was well acquainted with essential values.
As the years and generations roll on, our perspectives change. I remember that years ago when we visited the little church in Elnora, my dad was singing in the choir. I was shocked — he was past 70, and I thought “He is too old to be in a choir!”
Remembering that is why I chuckled one day after we had finished our anthem — a fellow tenor probably wondered why.
Well, here I am, many years older than my dad was, and they still let me wear a choir robe. Maybe I am too old for this, but I am afraid to ask.
My father was a guitar player, and little music sessions with friends was one of his favorite bits of pleasure, a respite from a really hard life. Choir singing helped, too.
We were poor, but I barely knew it. Farm work was hard, and I was glad to leave it — my father had little to give me when I left for college, but he was, in his quiet, caring way, happy, proud and supportive.
I look back now and list the little things, the simple acts, and they add up to a touching book of pride in the fellow I called dad.
We usually wait too long to compile these memories. I believe, though, that fathers who care deeply about their children don’t expect a lot of formal thanks. They just want to be able to say, even quietly, when children do something right: “Hey, that’s my boy!” Or “See what my girl did?”
Like a leaf that floats quietly to the ground when its work is done, my father left us quietly when it was time — he had done his work.
The test, and the blessing for us, is to cherish the reminders of our fathers’ virtues, and the way they cared about us.
There is, though, a strange switch in the place of moms and dads in the family home.
Some of us dads do dishes, fiddle with the garbage disposal without understanding it, and even mop floors.
We get lost in the food store and can’t find the pickles. Life is a real test.
We are trying to be equals — give us fathers credit for that.
Each generation has its season, and every generation should climb higher on the ladder of life than those who have come before — at least, we should try. A test for dads is to help the kids climb.
My eyes have cleared up, but the cure is not permanent. They will be damp again, and I am glad.
I am lucky — remembering my father with pride and seeing my own offspring reflecting many of his values.
Hand me some Kleenex, please.