To those in my blogging family, I wish you all a very happy Father’s Day. You have the greatest job in the world and I hope for you all the best on this day and every day.
I was up late last night, tossing and turning and clicked on the television for a little company. I was not about to see a replay of the Mets lose again to Atlanta. I stumbled upon a channel and watched a couple of classic Westerns: The Rifleman and Bonanza. The common thread for these programs was a single man raising a family on his own in the harshness of the Old West.
Ben Cartwright had it better as a wealthy rancher with three strapping sons on the Ponderosa. It was a little more stressful on The Rifleman, where Lucas McCain lived with his young son on a small ranch in rural Kansas.
These programs were broadcast in the last 1950s and early 1960s, and our country’s culture has considerably changed since, including, unfortunately, the devaluation of the American male and father, in particular, by Hollywood.
There are countless stories about single mothers and that’s all good. There are also stories of little Susie having two mothers and not needing a father figure in her life. Fine, that’s the way Hollywood wants it, but Hollywood is not my moral compass.
Men in TV and movies are often portrayed as bumbling buffoons and idiots with no value to society outside of being a punchline. Archie Bunker was written as a bigot, but was a man who left high school to support his family, then went off to war, and finally settled down to raise a family of his own.
He didn’t like or respect his son-in-law, a prototypical liberal who valued everybody and everything except those holding traditional values. Yet, his daughter loved him so Archie let him stay under his roof and helped him through school. And, Archie held a job on the loading dock at the warehouse and then drove a cab to support his family.
Why? Because that’s what fathers did.
I grew up siding with Michael politically, but as I got older developed a respect and admiration for what Archie stood for. Despite Archie’s political and ethnic resentments, he was far more a man than Michael could ever hope to be.
My father was nondescript in a lot of ways in the sense of today’s media, but was a good and decent man who loved and provided for his family. He took me to countless games, including out of school to see the Indians on Opening Day. He took me to a Browns playoff game where we had standing room only tickets and stood in freezing weather. I got my love of baseball from him and he was my Little League coach.
I was pretty good in Little League, but in a testament to his sense of fair play, I didn’t always get to play the entire game, or even start them all, because his rule was everybody got to play.
He did countless things for his family for which I will always remain grateful. He wasn’t a fan of the Rolling Stones, but once took me to see a midnight movie of a Stones concert. How great is that?
I remember him trying in vain to teach me algebra and geometry, and later having “the talk.” As fathers and sons often do, we clashed, but could always talk about baseball and World War II history. When he died, I hope he knew I respected and loved him.
There are a lot of friends in my life who are fathers, including my brother, who is a great dad. I always wonder what kind of father I would have been, and because it is something that will never happen for me, it is a regret.
So Cheers to those in my world who are fathers. You are very lucky.