Between fathers and sons

Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 15, 2006

Dear Dad,

Fathers and sons have a hard time telling each other how they feel about each other, and I'm not going to embarrass either of us by trying to achieve that breakthrough. Men know what women maybe don't know, that those feelings are transmitted through the eyes, through a pat on the shoulder, by telling each other stories, by playing a game of golf together or hunting together, by helping each other.

You'll probably get another stupid Father's Day card this year showing a tubby guy in a recliner outfitted with its own refrigerator and popcorn machine.

What the card won't say is thanks.

Thanks for fighting in two wars.

Thanks for working so hard to give your family a home.

Thanks for playing catch with me when I was a boy even though you never liked baseball. You probably would have preferred me to be a fighter. You were always bobbing and weaving with me while I just stood there with no idea what to do with my fists. I still never have punched anyone -- not that I didn't want to.

Thanks for introducing me to the world of newspapers. One of my most vivid childhood memories is a smell, the smell of freshly printed newspapers rolling off the press. As we sat in the car on Lorimier Street waiting for you to get off work, the smell of those newspapers wafted out the pressroom window.

My office is now in that same room. Sometimes I feel like a salmon who has returned home.

Thanks to you and Mom for surrounding us with music. I wish some of your natural musical ability had gotten passed on to me. Not many people can pick up most any instrument and play it without being taught by someone and without knowing how to read music.

Thanks for not embarrassing my girlfriend and me that time you were helping us fix something and some condoms fell out of their hiding place in the trunk of my car.

When you were laid off those many years ago, the way you found a new way to make a living made me proud. You never felt sorry for yourself. That was a good lesson for me. Watching you learn how to tune pianos from a book showed me that determination can turn most anything around.

I'm glad you're recovering well from your operation. Of course, Mom wouldn't let you get away with not recovering. She'd roll out to Hardee's and tell your coffee klatch to go home if she thought you weren't following the doctor's orders.

Thanks for hanging in there.

Many of my friends have lost their fathers by now. Father's Day has to be bittersweet for them. So many things that pass between fathers and sons never get put into words. That doesn't mean they are lost or forgotten.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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