A father gone, but not forgotten

We’re finally living in a time where fathers are getting the
recognition they deserve. This not because of old-fashioned
traditions where fathers were the supposed head of the household,
but because of changes in society. Roles in parenting have altered
during the past several decades.
We’re finally living in a time where fathers are getting the recognition they deserve. This not because of old-fashioned traditions where fathers were the supposed head of the household, but because of changes in society. Roles in parenting have altered during the past several decades.

While some still cling to the old-fashioned view of mom raising the kids and dad’s excused from the daily parenting, many people are starting to recognize the importance of hands-on parenting by both mom and dad. The results are great. More kids are really getting to know their dads. This interaction not only enriches the life of the child, but the father, too.

Though my parents believed in the traditional father works, mother-stays-home roles, (which excused fathers from parenting) my dad influenced my life in subtle ways. I vividly remember certain routines my father and I had. Sunday mornings were our time to read the comics together. When I was little I would sit in his lap and he’d read them to me, patiently explaining the ones I didn’t understand.

As I got older, we’d divide the sections of the comics, switching the paper back and forth. Sunday was also soup-for-lunch day. Every Sunday my father and I would open a can of Campbell’s bean with bacon soup, grab a handful of crackers and enjoy. It’s still one of my favorite soups.

My father loved to sing. His grandfather was an Irish immigrant, a musician who sang and played his way across North America, finally settling in Canada. My dad lived with his grandparents for a few years, perhaps that’s where the love of music originated. All I know is that every week we’d turn on the TV, sit in my dad’s favorite chair, raise our voices and sing along with Mitch. When not singing, he’d whistle his way through the day.

My dad absolutely loved the ocean. Jacques Cousteau, one of the pioneering ocean explorers, was my dad’s hero. Whenever there was a Cousteau special on, I was commandeered to sit with my dad and watch it. My dad, an amateur photographer from the time he was 15, delighted in underwater photography. He was amazed by the world hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

Sports-wise, my dad loved the car races. From the moment Laguna Seca opened in the late 1950s we were there. I’ve often thought that historians might want a glimpse of my dad’s race pictures. My first race car crush was on a driver named Sterling Moss. Later I closely watched the careers of Jackie Stewart, Bruce McClaren, Bobby Rahal and more.

We didn’t take many vacations when I was growing up, but the few we did centered around the ocean. Our favorite place was Whidbey Island off the coast of Washington. There, we’d rent small boats, fish and dig for clams. My mom would make clam chowder and we’d eat fresh fish, lots of it. When some dear family friends moved to San Diego, we’d spend time with them sailing and playing in the warm ocean water.

Both my parents loved to learn. They never stopped taking classes and trying to improve their knowledge. At 50, my dad took up scuba diving. He spent every weekend exploring the hidden ocean world that always fascinated him. At 57 he disappeared while scuba diving. His body was never found, but there on top of a coral reef, was his beloved underwater camera. Those last photos showed the underwater beauty he so loved.

Though my dad’s been gone many years now, I think of him often. Whenever I go to the coast, thoughts of my dad come to mind. When I find myself whistling I laugh and mentally call myself whistler’s daughter.

This Father’s Day, I’ll spend time on memory lane. Though I would have loved to spend more time with my dad, I’ll always be grateful for the father I had.

Cindy Brown is a Free Lance correspondent, and her column appears every Monday.

Leave your comments