I wrote this for the boys over at Dadcentric, and am republishing it here because I can and you can't stop me. Check out the rest of their memories there, then take some time to call your father and wish him the best. Chances are that Brut (by Fabergé) you bought him when you were 7 is still in the medicine cabinet, and he'd appreciate the call a little more....
I don't think my dad knew how to deal with me for the first 15 years of my life. He came from hearty German stock, grew up on a farm and quietly bore the weight of the world on his shoulders without a grumble. I was much more like my mom, overly dramatic and expressive. My whole family was a chaotic swirl of noise and idiocy, and he seemed to always hover on the periphery, dependably mowing the lawn or moving the sprinklers and only occasionally stepping in to resolve a dispute, generally with the threat of a good spanking. As such he took on sort of a remote and mythical image in my life, like a golem or a tiki, and his stoic demeanor was his trademark.
On the day I left home, I stood in our driveway, all my worldly possessions crammed into the back of a U-Haul latched onto an unfortunate Mazda 626. I was about to drive from Spokane to Minneapolis to take a new job and begin a new life on my own. I stood on the threshold of an exciting new experience and faced the house I grew up in without much thought to what I was leaving behind. My family stood around me, offering all sorts of advice and good wishes and pleas to call at every rest stop along the way. As I worked my way through the goodbyes I came to my dad, who had always patiently supported me as I dreamed of this day. And for the first time in my life I saw him crying.
It hit me like a sledgehammer as this man, who had always been the inscrutable rock of my existence, bore in his face and manner all the love, the pride, and accumulated joy and grief of our relationship. His voice broke as he reached our his hand and said, "Good luck, son. I'm very proud of you, and I love you." Although it wasn't the first time he'd said it, it was the first time I understood what it meant to him, the staggering depth of love buried beneath his calm exterior. The love a father bears for his first-born son.
My eyes were wet for three hundred miles that day. I haven't been the same since. Thanks, Dad.