Toughness is a good thing.
I think it is a trait that people, especially men, seek in their lives. It is something that my father wanted to see in me. I can recall times when I would get hurt, or show some emotion, and my father invariably responded with "Rub some dirt in it, walk it off son." When I think of him I think of his toughness. His hands were rough and callused and unyielding.
I got a call tonight. My father had heart failure and is in the ICU. It isn't likely that he will live. They are going to stop life support in 48hrs.
Ironically his toughness was likely what had the doctors telling him last week that he was beating lung and throat cancer. My father was good at fighting. He was tough.
What I am struggling with most right now is that I don't have much else to say about who my father was. I wish we could have been closer. I have said many times that when someone close to us dies we should celebrate their lives and not mourn their deaths.
In following this creed I will embrace the few positive things that I know of him.
What I know of my father is that he had a hard childhood. He was a good athlete. He worked hard. He did what he could to provide for his wife and children before the divorce. He was very tough.
I will remember the handful of times that I spent with my father that I think I got a glimpse of who he really was. A fishing trip or two, a few walks in the woods.
I don't think my father was a bad man. It certainly isn't my place to judge him. I sometimes wonder if I had lived up to some of his expectations of me if things might have been different. Maybe he would have identified with me or taken some interest in who I was, but I never could quite get there.
I am sorry that I couldn't bridge the gap. I know I tried. I know how much disappointment he felt when it came to me. I felt it many times.
I am sitting here writing some dumb blog crying. Not very tough. Probably letting him down again.
I learned a great many things from my father. Some day I hope to be a Dad. I hope if that happens that my child thinks I am tough too, but I hope they have more than that to embrace and remember me by.
Here's to those few times when we were side by side with fishing poles. I love you dad.