Along with June comes Father’s Day and my thoughts turn to my own father, Blue Water Charlie. If you want to read about Blue Water in detail, find a copy of my book, Blue Water & Me, Tall Tales of Adventures With My Father.
There’s a tremendous difference between families with fathers and families without fathers. Just Google it. There is no question that children that grow up with a father figure make better citizens.
My father was not a perfect man. He was this bigger than life commercial fisherman. A complex man, full of contradictions, he laid down the law for us like some Olympic God and never explained his reasons. Just because he said so was good enough.
When I had kids of my own, he once told me that “raising kids is a lot like breaking broncos.” He should know because that was his first job, growing up in West Texas. “Show them who is boss, then treat them with kindness.”
But that didn’t mean he gave up his thirst for adventure. As we grew older, he took us with him camping, traveling, exploring. I’m so grateful that he instilled that sense of adventure in me.
He always showed us kindness, even when administering discipline. I can’t remember how many times he said “Now Penny, you know that I don’t enjoy this, but you need to be taught a lesson. I’m doing this for your own good.” Was it good that I couldn’t sit down for a week afterwards? But I learned my lesson.
The lesson I learned was to logically decide if what I wanted to do was worth the punishment. I never got away with anything. My mother had the ability to read my mind. She always knew what I was going to do before I did it. So I learned early on to gauge if what I was contemplating was worth the penalty. If it was, I went ahead and did it, if not, I abstained. That way, if I was going to misbehave, I always got my “spanking’s worth.”
Papa taught us lots, both by what he said and what he did. He was a stickler for manners. He grew up in the south and was a southern gentleman. He also was an Army officer and learned US Army style manners. He passed these on to us. I won’t take a bite until the hostess is seated and can’t abide someone wearing a hat to the table.
But he settled for the sake of his children. He loved us so much that he gave up what he wanted to do to be with us. So this brings me to the question of what is love?
Although he never told us he loved us, the fact that he sacrificed his desires for his family was the ultimate act of love. Aristotle said that love is “to will the good of another.”
Putting the interest of your children ahead of your own interests is certainly an act of love. Even though Papa tried to plan our entire lives and we sometimes disappointed him, he reveled in our successes.
For all of his flaws, Papa was a good father. He set an example for us to follow. He made me want to be a better father than the one I had. I could not be who I am or have accomplished what I have accomplished without him.
When his grandfather, Pendleton Carroll, died, he held his father’s hand at grandpa’s grave site. His father told him that grandpa, “was much of a man.” I guess it’s hereditary. Papa was much of a man.
Papa took me with him on his last great adventure. He was pushing sixty years old, I was eleven. We spent a summer fishing for albacore tuna off the coast of Mexico.
Adventure followed adventure and Papa told me stories of the good old days and the bad old days.
I hope you will take the time to share the adventure with me.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there.