My dad and I had a sometimes rocky relationship. I felt like he didn’t understand me, he felt like I didn’t understand life. We were both right. Unfortunately he passed away before he had a chance to get to really know me, and before I had a fair shot at getting to know life. I often wonder what he would have made of the usually reasonable detente that life and I have come to; would he have been proud, or a little disappointed? What life lessons went forever un-taught because he died at the relatively young age of 69? He was so thrilled when my daughter was born – my son would have positively melted him. Neither will ever know him, and that still makes me very sad, even 22 years later.
Dad was a pilot, a sailor, a dreamer. A World War II vet, he rarely spoke of it; he’d yearned to join the Air Force, but my grandmother would hear nothing of it, so the Army it was. He was at Normandy, but a catch in his throat, and a haunted look were all I was ever able to pull from him about the experience.
An electrical engineer good enough at his craft to have his equipment on spacecraft from Gemini through the Space Shuttle, his receivers live on doing duty in the SETI program. He would have loved that. He introduced me to my first computer – let’s be honest, he bought my first computer, the original Mac, for himself, which I promptly liberated the moment I saw it. He loved technology – we had a mutual love of science fiction, one of the few things we could share without friction during those shaky adolescent years. Frequently when some new something-or-other comes out I still can’t help thinking, “Dad would love this.” And so he would have.
Funny how our fathers shape us, even when they’ve been gone for half our lives. I can still hear the occasional clearing throat of disapproval, see a furrowed brow encouraging me to check just one more time, and sometimes an approving sniff. I wish he’d had the chance to get to know the person I’ve become, and I wish the person I am now had the chance to know him. More than anything else I wish my kids had this uber-cool Grand-Papa in their lives as more than just a ghost in stories and old photos.
Here’s to you Dad, on Father’s Day. I miss you, and I love you.