It's Fathers' Day today, and I'm thinking about my dad, as I know many of you are.
We were not always close. In actuality, there were times, I'm ashamed to say, when I waited for him to go to work, dreaded his return, and delighted in the fact that he worked very long hours. Those, of course, were thoughts left behind in childhood. I don't think my father was quite ready for all the responsibilities of fatherhood as a young man. He sort of grew into the role, in his own way for sure, as he matured. I never knew I'd miss him as much as I do, and I sometimes think I miss him more over the years.
I am the eldest of five children, and as such had my own special set of rules. Rules I deemed totally unfair. Somehow, I was to be the shining example to my brothers and sisters. If they slipped up or embarrassed him, that was my fault. I should have been a better example. If any of my younger siblings were punished for an indiscretion, I was also punished. Well before I married and moved away from home at the ancient age of 18, this punishment concept had shifted to be oddly more inclusive. Grounding was the usual punishment, and if one of us were to be grounded, we were ALL grounded. You can just imagine how much my mother, as a stay-at-home mom, loved this arrangement. He went to work and she stayed home with five outraged, whiny children. The oddest thing in this whole scenario (in my opinion, at least) is that after I was no longer in the house, when he could no longer ground us all, and especially me as the eldest who was to be setting the great example, grounding ended. Most, though not all, punishment of any kind ended. He did not deem it fair to ground them when he couldn't ground me. My dad was smart and funny and quite the character, but he had some down-right interesting ideas about child-rearing.
One thing I didn't realize until much, much later in life was how proud he was of each of us. It's comforting now. Though as I began to write this my mind wandered back to childhood, when I think of him now, I mostly think of later years. I think of silly things, like meeting my parents at the farmers' market here, and wandering through vegetables and fruit looking for just the perfect ones for the yet undetermined dish. Or carefully picking out small, fresh cucumbers to make into pickles. He also enjoyed curing olives, and it was fun to watch the process, though I rarely participated.
Interestingly, we also rarely ate the end results be it olives or pickles. At least I don't remember eating them. My brothers and sisters may. Hmm, I still don't do well with fermented foods of any kind. I make them. They look great. They smell great. I'm afraid to eat them, so I wait until they've gone bad, then I throw them away. Maybe that's my legacy.
Happy Fathers' Day, Dad.