Around the House

Dear Old Dad

By Lynn Leissler

For the Independent

“It is a wise father that knows his own child,” quoth William Shakespeare. As usual, The Bard nailed it. It’s a good thing somebody in the family understood me. Mom, the pragmatic parent, saw the world in black and white, so this “gray” child struggled to fit in. Mind, Dad had little tolerance for misdeeds, but he got me. After reading through my parents’ letters and Mom’s journals, I discovered I’m more like my father than I ever imagined.

When Dad died, someone called him a man of wit and wisdom, a tag agreed upon by all who knew him. He had a twinkle in his eye and a ready, witty reply. He’s been gone twenty-three years, but I still want to ask his advice, something he gave judiciously, though taking care to neither intrude nor offend.

He was brilliant, for I never remember asking a question he couldn’t answer. He taught me fun things such as how to spell Connecticut. “You connect, I cut.” My brother John remembers our father’s parables, and repeated one: Two guys met in the middle of a one-lane bridge. One guy said, “I don’t back up for idiots.” The other replied, “I do.” Our parents modeled good character, and some of our skills we learned directly, others through observation and osmosis.

My sister Charlotte told of having Dad sign her eighth-grade autograph book. “Always do your best. Angels can do no more.” Those words have comforted and guided her in life.

I asked a couple of friends about their dad memories. Peggy immediately mentioned her father’s sense of humor. If it was anything like hers, he must have been a hoot, and the two of them together—whooee. She talks about him often and fondly.

Jay’s dad passed six months ago, and like most of us, he appreciates him even more now. In retrospect. He misses the phone calls asking about his wellbeing or offering Happy Birthday wishes, and having no more Father’s Day celebrations together. “It is his total love I really miss.” I can identify there.

A good father carries his role to the grandchildren. Whether it’s playing with them or mentoring the next generation, the father-now-grandfather’s influence remains essential. My sons consider their grandfather an essential role model.

In generations past, many fathers weren’t as involved as today’s dads. Still, their role impacted more than they might imagine. All said, I’m grateful for the one I had.