Story Submitted by Thomas J. Bostock
IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE PINK AND GOOEY AND SMELL SO BAD?
By seventy-five, I should probably be jaded. I’ve been a father, grandfather several times, and now a great grandfather. It’s official. I even have a shirt for it! Surprisingly, the wonder never dies as the cycle of life repeats itself, time after time. I see my two daughters with grown children of their own but still remember bouncing them and their children on my knee. If I tried it now, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk for a week! That’s the problem with us elder citizens, no matter how old and independent that they become, they will always be children in our eyes. I used to have an expression that I know my kids will remember: It’s not when your get up and go is gone, its where it’s been that counts. All I need to do is look at my family and I know where it went. Being a father is more than just giving in to a biological urge. It’s all those little things that accumulate over the years. It’s helping change diapers, bouncing a colicky baby on your chest until she falls asleep, kissing boo-boos, and eating biscuits that were made for you with baking powder substituted for baking soda making them the equivalent of hockey pucks…and liking them. It’s the late nights helping finish up last-minute assignments where they had two weeks to complete and then adding fluff when there weren’t the right number of words, and going to school to confront teachers who were so full of themselves that they couldn’t see that they were damaging your child. It is teaching your child to drive and not losing your mind when they hit the gas instead of the brake, almost running into your workplace. It’s comforting the heartaches and heartbreaks, knowing that there are many more to come and encouraging them to let their grasp outstretch their reach so that they are never bored and always challenged. It’s picking them up when they fall, knowing that they will fall again. It’s respecting their choices in life for careers and mates. It’s hoping that you taught the right values without being overly strict or restrictive and respecting their opinions and being glad that they are willing to think for themselves, not accepting everything at face value but questioning when things are not what they seem. It is a million smiles, tears, and kisses, in my case, Eskimo kisses (nose rubs). It is joys and laughter tempered with pain and sorrow. It is watching them as they learned to roll over, then pull themselves up in their cribs, and then teeter and crawl. The wobbly walk was a rite of passage. I see that in the cell phone videos that I receive from my granddaughter of my great-grandson. Suddenly, there was kindergarten and then grade school with indistinguishable animals that they drew for you. “Look, daddy, I made you a monkey.” You stared at the crooked lines and knew that if there wasn’t the likeness of a monkey, it should have been there; it was up to you to confirm it. Then middle school and high school with new relationships, hurts and rewards, being picked on and bullied. With the graduations came the college years and more boyfriends, advice, and relationships. With so many memories, it is hard to point to just a few things that represent fatherhood. In their own way, they all do. It was “the best of times, it was the worst of times and I wouldn’t have traded it for all the money in the world. It is “I love you to the moon and back,” wrapped up in my family.