To Be a Father 11/17/19

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

To be fair and honest, I’m not a father. I always wanted to be, but I’m not, and maybe it’s for the best. Who is to say that I would be a good one? But I do enjoy watching others and thinking about what I would like to incorporate into my behaviors if, indeed, I were a father.

My struggles have brought me to a city where I know only a couple of people. One of them is a young man who opened his heart, and his apartment, for me, inviting me to live with him. He is a divorced father, and I know his ex-wife as well. She has described him to me as a wonderful father, but I’ve never seen him (or her for that matter) in action. His daughter is, oh, maybe nine or ten now, and her time is split between living with her father and her mother in what appears to be roughly a fifty-fifty split.

His heart is clearly as large as all of North America to have made sure that I have a roof over my head, to be as giving as he has been. But more than this, he really is a great father. Every night that she spends here, he reads to her just before she goes to sleep. It’s charming, and I must admit, I’ve been listening in as he does so. Currently they are working their way through Narnia (or whatever the proper name of that book is). He does voices and works to bring the book alive for her.

I have been thinking about this of late. She is fortunate to have a father who spends time with her. I can tell you that my father never did that for me. I guess I never really thought about it until now. I’ve written about the emotional abuse I suffered, but to actually spend time with a child is incredibly important. I believe that I was always a disappointment to my father. I was never athletically inclined and had a father who frequently bragged about his high-school athletic prowess. It’s kind of surprising that he didn’t sell womens’ shoes for a living. But, on the flip side of the coin, neither did he ever spend any significant time teaching me how to catch or throw.

My sister was fortunate. Mom would spend hours with her brushing her hair and chatting with her. I, on the other hand, would spend hours alone in my room. I think that they just decided between the two of them that their daughter was for my mom to raise, and their son was for my father to raise. To give some idea of how disappointed he is in me, my brother-in-law is actually the executor of my father’s will. Yup, my sister’s husband is like the son that my father always wanted.

I am fortunate to be able to live with these amazing single-ish parents. About a year ago, I moved in with a single-ish mother and her daughter. I say “ish” because she does have a husband (and a marvelous one at that), but being in the military, he spent long stretches of time away leaving just her and her daughter. This remarkable young woman took her daughter with her every weekend to feed hot meals to the homeless in the basement of their church. This is an incredible charitable act, and to include her daughter not only taught of hard work and charity, but also exposed her daughter to some of the most unfortunate people in our society. How marvelous for her daughter to learn that any fear of the homeless is not only unfounded, but harmful as well. The people she served were real human beings, with thoughts, history, intelligence, hopes and dreams just like anybody else, and yet, people often tend to forget this. I’m sure these lessons will never be lost on her daughter.

To be fair, I have no idea what kind of father I would be. Another friend insists that I would be a wonderful father. I don’t know. If I were a wonderful father, it would be because of the examples I have been seeing from my friends who are parents and the lessons I have learned from them. Had I become a father twenty or so years ago, when it seems so many people tend to become fathers, I’m not sure what kind of father I would have been. I would like to believe that I would be a great father, but there is no way of knowing. All I do know is that I am fortunate to have gotten to know the important lessons I have learned from my friends.

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