I check the forecast every morning. At some point over the years, I developed a compulsive desire to know the odds of needing a light jacket next Tuesday.
It’s not that strange. Living in Central New York, we experience our fair share of unpredictable weather. But my climate curiosity began to remind me of my dad who, back in the 1980s, would stay glued to The Weather Channel as though convinced that a Sharknado was forever looming.
Once I noticed this connection between us, every forecast began to sound the same: “There will be squalls of inevitability moving eastward into your subconscious, with a 90 percent chance that you are slowly turning into your father.”
That prospect has never fazed me. I can’t point to a single Darth Vader-Luke Skywalker moment when my legacy became apparent to me. Instead, it dawned on me over time—and thankfully did not involve an invitation to join my father in his conquest of the universe.
As far back as I can remember, my father has embodied the kind of dad depicted across any rack of Father’s Day greeting cards. I’m sure there must be some sons or daughters who have difficulty finding a printed message that captures their father’s character. My family has never had that problem. Hallmark’s scribes seem to have my dad in mind at this time of year.
Father’s Day cards rarely stray from a few conventions, the most common being golf, beer and tools. This seems to suggest fatherhood is nothing more than playing 18 holes and then tossing back a few Budweisers while changing out a carburetor. True, my father has probably done all of that in the span of a Saturday afternoon. But it is all of the other things that have earned him titles like “Best Dad Ever” or “No. 1 Dad.”
(I have never heard mention of second or third place. There’s just a universal tie for first, all fathers apparently being equal.)
Still, I believe that my siblings and I have been extra lucky. We grew up with my father as a constant, influential presence in our lives. I understand that this is not the case in every home, and I appreciate the positive impact a father can (and should!) have in his children’s lives. Our father taught us this without really trying.
I’m sure there must be some sons or daughters who have difficulty finding a printed message that captures their father’s character.
He taught us right from wrong, right from left, and the right to return any item to any store without a receipt or an explanation. He helped coach Little League teams and got enough co-credit on school projects to earn several honorary elementary school diplomas. Over the years, he has endured countless band concerts, plays and chorus recitals, each one less watchable than the last. He can barbecue like Bobby Flay, drive nails like Bob Vila, and nap like no one should be physically capable of doing.
Two of my father’s greater passions have made a solid impression me: his love of popcorn and of groan-worthy jokes. I’m pretty sure I inherited both of these traits. I welcomed this, as there is no “pop butter” than him. (“Corny” jokes that hit the punny bone? Yeah, that’s just how “eye roll!”)
Now retired, my parents vacation professionally, another talent I hope to someday acquire. My dad owns an absurdly youthful Ford Mustang, a reminder of his philosophy that you are only as old as you feel. Considering the many sacrifices he has made for his family over the years, I can think of no one more deserving of a little relaxation and careless spending.
My father, 74 years old this month, is the patriarch of a multigenerational family. Each of his four children has stolen pieces of his wisdom and embraced them as our own. As I help raise (with my ex-wife) one of his six grandchildren, I realize exactly how high the paternal bar has been set. And I wonder where I stand.
I like beer, but I don’t enjoy it enough for it to be featured on a greeting card aimed at me. The same goes for golf, as my scores usually fall in the unmentionable range. I’m handy with tools, although some of my father’s finer skills may have skipped a generation. Few Father’s Day cards make reference to the time that you nearly electrocuted yourself.
But none of that matters. The traits I really hope I inherited from my dad are less definable yet more consequential: selflessness, compassion, generosity of spirit. These are tough to express on a greeting card but easy to see as they get handed down to my daughter, my nieces and my nephews.
I will continue to check the forecast each morning. Maybe an obsession with predicting the weather is just part of becoming a father, given that fatherhood already comes with enough unpredictable moments. And maybe I am turning into him. I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way.
If there happens to be a Father’s Day card out there that reads “You’re just like your dad,” that’s the one for me.