MILLEDGEVILLE — Since I learned several months ago that my youngest son and his wife are expecting our family’s first grandchild — a grandson — this Father’s Day has a little different meaning for me. My father will be 80 in a little more than a month, and as I navigate my 50s, the invincibility I once enjoyed as a young man is replaced by the sobering realization that no one lives forever.
My mother passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer, and that also changes the way I view special occasions and holidays. She could be ornery and cantankerous, but we all miss her. I often find myself thinking that I wish she could see how everything she fussed over turned out. Then I am reminded that perhaps she can.
Since my wife retired, she has been dreaming up projects around the house for us to do. We mostly work together, but a lot of that together work is a good opportunity to get lost in one’s thoughts.
With a son, grandson, and great-grandson on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fatherhood. Looking back on it, my own youth was filled with a fair amount of the kind of father-son turmoil that was the typical result of my own rebelliousness.
I am a product of the 1960s, after all.
It’s interesting to me that, although I know those times occurred, I find it hard to remember them specifically. Instead, I remember a man who taught me how to hunt and fish, how to appreciate daybreak and sunrise on mornings so cold that my breath nearly froze against the air.
The same man taught me to drive a car — a 1966 VW Beetle, to be exact. I was 12. Almost every Sunday afternoon while he was teaching me to love the outdoors he was also teaching me how to shift gears, make sound judgments, and act responsibility.