A bit of catch-up.
And the title suggests the question: what do I do?
Glad you asked!
I do what I want to. And that is determined by who I am, both in my genetic make-up (nature) and my upbringing (nurture). And the man who had the most to do with both of those is my father.
I am blessed to have a father who looks to his Heavenly Father, and that is a major part of my life. I strive to be a follower of Jesus Christ, my savior and my lord. I understand that Christianity is not inherited – there are no grandchildren in Heaven. My father loves and serves God, and led me in that path. There was no question of “Are we going to church today?”, because the answer was always “Yes”.
And my Dad understands that with great privilege comes great responsibility. He was active on the local, zone, and district levels of our denomination. The district was a big one (all of upstate New York), and the campgrounds where meetings were sometimes held was 300 miles away. Driving to a meeting that far away took sacrifice. I have inherited this trait, without the mileage. I am a member of my church’s board, and am honored to serve.
Don’t get the impression that he is strict, severe, and takes no enjoyment from his duties. Backing up to the campgrounds was a gravel pit, and said gravel pit had a lot of fossils (another interest that was passed on to me). When I say that it had a lot of fossils, that’s because one time my Dad brought home a collection of about 200 pounds of rocks from that gravel pit. I was in high school at the time, and don’t remember Mom’s exact reaction, but it is still a topic of conversation. I have built my own rock collection, but at least I keep mine in a creek at the bottom of the driveway.
Philology is another shared trait, probably more from monkey see, monkey do. I caught the love of reading and words early, and am still wondrously afflicted. When I was younger, my punishment was not to take away TV or video games, but rather to take away books. Word games, puzzles, puns – all big habits I received from my Dad.
And then there’s chocolate. I’m sure that some day there might be a chocolate we don’t like. I don’t want to rule out that possibility. Stranger things have happened. But I’d rather bet on the stock market hitting an exact figure next election day than bet against chocolate.
I like telling jokes, and making people laugh. I have a good memory for jokes, and a decent sense of timing. My brother’s sense of timing is better, but I think we both got it from the same place, which was – wait for it — our Dad.
And that sense of humor helps in getting along with people. My Dad successfully navigated the bureaucracies of two school systems to retirement, and made it through his stint in the Army. He did this partly because he can get along well with people. He is not aggressive or unnecessarily competitive. Like me, he tends to be the oil that makes things go smoothly instead of being the grit in the gears.
My Dad has been known – on occasion, at least – to wear hats of a certain panache.
Or some head covering
I myself go for the plastic hamburger bun, as delivered by my favorite niece
This brings up another similarity – we both wear hair nets
when we volunteer at Kids Against Hunger. He donates his time and helps those in need, and it certainly rubbed off on me. Working in downtown Cincinnati, with all the professional beggars, has made my giving less immediate, but it has not hardened my heart.
There is one last characteristic that Dad passed along to me, at least in part: pocket stuff. Whether he is looking at a book with his granddaughter
investigating a postcard
visiting his mother at the nursing home
or getting a computer lesson on his 75th birthday
he always has a shirt pocket full of stuff. Index cards, including blank ones. Pens of all different colors. Brochures and pamphlets. Sermon notes, I imagine. Probably a pocket screwdriver. This man is an archetypical Boy Scout – he is prepared. I follow him in this, but at a distance. I have a Personal Digital Assistant (Palm Tungsten E) that I use for taking notes and keeping my calendar (and reading the Bible, and figuring out when Easter is, and calculating, and . . .).
When I was a rebellious youth, I didn’t have an interest in what my Dad did, or wanted to teach me (including changing brakes on the station wagon). I would sigh, and clomp over and do whatever he wanted me to, and then I’d sigh and go back to whatever self-important trifle I had been engaged in. Mark Twain has a quote about not being impressed with his own father when he was 18, but he was amazed at how much his father had learned over the course of the next seven years. Mr. Twain, it doesn’t stop there.
My Dad – when I grow up, I want to be like him.