Tuesday, July 04, 2017

I Am My Father's Son

My father died almost 2 weeks ago (on June 21).  The following is a tribute to him that I read at memorial events over the past weekend (wake-keeping and funeral).

I Am My Father’s Son

I am my father's son.  Too often we hear of kids who say that they never want to be like their mother or father when they grow up.  This has never been the case for me - I have always admired my dad.  This is not to say that I’ve always wanted to be exactly like him; we grew up in too different of times and environments for that to be the case.  But as I have grown older it has become increasingly apparent to me how much he has shaped my worldview and the trajectory of my life

All of my big life decisions have been made after consultation with my dad, whether he knew it or not. A friend pointed this out to me after I graduated college, and it still rings true today.  Starting with college...he came up with the list of schools that I applied to, took me to visit a few of them, and helped me decide what to major in.  He was a key part of my post-graduation plans, and helped me decide to take the job in St. Louis instead of immediately beginning graduate school.

While I was in college he and I had a couple of long discussions where he impressed upon me the importance of owning a house that I can call home.  When I began working I chose to live in my parents’ house for a few years in order to save up for my own house, as well as help my mom while my dad was in Kuwait.  It was one of the greatest joys of my life when I surprised both of my parents after contracting my house.

Pa was never one for debt if it was avoidable.  He would only spend the money that he had, even when he was making an expensive purchase like a new car.  So, of course, when it came time for me to buy a car, I had to pay in cash just like him.

Despite his many successes in life, he was not one to be extravagant or boastful.  He was simply concerned with taking care of his family and providing them the best life possible.  I have come to appreciate this more in recent years as I see the results of his sacrifices.  In the last few years he often expressed how proud he was of me and my brothers, which always filled me with great emotion.  While I’m sure he did this as well while I was younger, at the time I was naively focused on the moments of sternness.  Although effusive affection was not in his nature due to his upbringing, my mom and I would agree that by the end he had become a veritable softie in comparison to when I was a child.

As I move on to further big life decisions, I will miss having my chief advisor and role model.  My dad married my mom when he was 38 years old, so I guess that gives me 3 years to find a wife if I want to be just like him.  But when that time comes I won’t be able to call mom and dad to get advice or share the news.  It will have to be just mom.  And as much as that hurts, it will be alright because I have the best mom in the world.  And one last thing that my dad and I shared is a great love for her.