Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Most Important Thing

My daughter suggests I write about the things that were most important to me in my 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's. The funny thing is that I can't remember anything in terms of possessions or activities or anything like that from any of those given decades that seemed "most important". From where I sit right now the thing that was most important to me through all that time was one thing, the thing I remember most of all, the thing that brought me my greatest joys, drove my most important decisions and made me face my greatest difficulties.

The thing that was most important then, and is still the most important thing in my life now, is, and will always be, my children. The thing that was most important then, and is still the most important thing in my life now, is being a Dad.

I will not claim to have been a particularly good Dad. In fact in most cases I would say I was mediocre at best and sometimes just downright bad at it. Nonetheless my role as a father was and remains my single most common self-identification mark. When I look back in the rear-view mirror of my life, the one thing that looms largest in my hindsight is just being a Dad.

This role just seems natural to me. It seems to come to me in ways that work well sometimes and don't others. Yet I perpetually think of myself in that extension, in that mode, the mode of Dad. Note that I don't use the word "father" as much. Really I am just a Dad. I was a Dad to every young person who came into our home, not that I tried it intentionally. it just happened that way. I was not a father to them, but a Dad. I was Mary's Dad, Meaghan's Dad, Katie's Dad, Ricky's Dad. I still am.

Think of where I am now. When I needed help the most, I turned to my family and to my children. When I miss my old life the most I think of my kids, of their friends and of the stuff we did together. When you ask me to talk about my life, my children and my experiences with them are what immediately springs to mind. I remember the laughter, the fun, the travel, the adventure and all the time spent together. I remember the songs we would sing and the stories we could tell. I remember the questions and complete disregard for answers.

I will miss being a grandfather. I know, I already am. My grandchildren as small and live far away. After I am gone they won't have the memories that my own children have of me. They won't know the silly songs and bad imitations. They won't remember going fishing or camping or being out on the boat. I will be as foreign to them as an ancient historical figure. I will be intangible.

My grandchildren will have other grandfathers. I won't be there. That makes me sad.

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