Fathers deserve children’s recognition, love

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

It seems mothers get all the praise and Dad takes the rap if he’s not perfect these days.

It seems that fathers need to have more going for them than simply being the strong, silent provider these days, even if that did work for my dad and many of his contemporaries, and earlier generations.

After reading Joan Clayton’s column this week about Father’s Day, a coworker said he wished he’d had a dad like she described her husband Emmitt. I know him pretty well, and it’s true that they may have broken the fatherhood mold on Mr. Clayton. I don’t know of a lot of dads who could be interchanged with Ward Cleaver of “Leave It To Beaver” fame without the plot suffering, but he would be one.

My dad definitely wasn’t a ‘50s sitcom sort of pop, but I have no regrets.

He was busy working to provide for his family and if we wanted to build fond memories of Dad, we had to do it with him as he worked, usually in a truck or on some piece of heavy equipment.

Growing up, I only remember a couple of vacation trips that didn’t involve meeting relatives somewhere or a quick fishing trip. We simply didn’t take sightseeing vacation trips like most families of that day.

I have some good memories of fishing with Dad, but not of him teaching me to fish. He wasn’t the most patient man, and untangling a kid’s pole wasn’t high on his list of fun ways to spend his leisure time.

Likewise, I don’t remember him teaching my siblings or I to drive. As my mother was fond of saying, he expected us all to be able to drive as soon as we could walk, like he did.

Oh, he had no problem letting me drive, but he sure got sore the day I nearly creamed the tractor with the pickup. I can still remember him running along beside the pickup trying to turn the wheel the other way through the window.

We got to wrestle with our dad and he took us with him to the coffee shop when we were little and occasionally he would even play ball with us for a short time. But as far as building kites, soapbox derby racers and dispensing fatherly advice like Ward Cleaver … that never happened.

The work ethic he demonstrated and expected of me easily outweighs any father-son “quality time” we missed. By today’s standards, with all the distractions for families, sadly, that wouldn’t be enough.

I believe a connection can be made no matter what type dad you have, though.

The last time I embraced my dad we both knew it would be the last time we saw each other on Earth. We normally didn’t hug when parting, but I did it that day anyway. He hated that show of emotion and tried to quickly get me on my way.

He was dying from cancer, and a few months later in the wee hours of the morning I got a call from Mother that he had died. Over 700 miles away, I had been awake and praying as he passed on without knowing he was in his final hours. I believe there must have been a connection.
Time is shorter than you think. Show your fathers you love them just as they are.

Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail:
karl_terry@link.freedom.com