If this is the first day you’ve stopped by the DadPad and noticed we’re into Day 4 of the Father’s Day challenge, don’t leave. You can start at any time or just go back to the previous blog posts and decide which one(s), if any, you want to do. The idea is simply to be a little more intentional this year about honoring your dad as we approach Father’s Day, June 17.
A couple of days ago I suggested 15 questions that you could either answer (if you knew the answer) or use to have a great discussion with your dad to find out more about his life. Most of those questions were related to the early days of his life (questions about the city he grew up in, elementary school he attended, etc.). Today’s story and questions are related to a time later on in your dad’s life and helping you put more of the pieces together about what made your dad tick and maybe giving you some insight (and a little more compassion) about why he may have done some of the things he did.
My dad had a rough upbringing. I’ve had a few discussions about this with him over the past couple of years. I found out that he was embarrassed to bring home friends from school because of the messiness of his home. So, he never experienced the overnight stays with a bunch of buddies or all of the life that happens when groups of friends congregate in each others home. We always had kids at our house when I was growing up. My mom loved to have my friends over. I felt a little sorry for my dad that he never got to experience that. My dad was a smart young man but didn’t always do well in school. Grades didn’t tell the whole picture. But, he was especially strong in math aptitude and he passed that down to me. Yet, he never really ever thought about going to college. It was much more uncommon for high school graduates to go to college during that time then it is today, where it is almost mandatory (maybe unnecessarily so—a blog post for a different day) today. So, after graduating high school, my dad took some odd jobs, worked at a liquor store and started what would become his career at the post office. He started working at the local post office at the age of 19 and 35 years later would be able to retire with a pretty decent pension package for years served. I’ve asked him a few times if he regretted either not going or being able to go to college? But, I have never heard him complain and he’s grateful for the long career he had, the people he met and the nice benefit package he got for his steadfastness in staying at the USPS for 35 years. So much different than my career path.
His dad was from Russia (the area near Prussia before it was split into Russia and German). My grandfather came over at a young age and fought in WW I. It would have been so interesting to hear my grandfather’s stories of that time but he died when I was very young. My dad’s mom died of heart failure when she was 52. As I learned more about my dads years of growing up in a challenging environment, the lack of love between his mom and dad and the pressure he must have felt as he grew up to have to carve out his life with no money, no support and no vision it has helped me to better empathize with him and helps me to see a little of how he certainly was not prepared for what he was getting himself into when he and my mom had me outside of wedlock. But, in those days, it was considered the right thing to do…you married the woman you got pregnant. It didn’t work and they divorced but they had an amicable divorce. So much so that my dad actually came over to our house and was invited in to have coffee and visit with my mom and her new husband on Sunday mornings. It never felt that strange to me.
So, dad, thank you for the example of perseverance you modeled by staying with your job and providing for your family and building something out of nothing. Thank you being there every Sunday to pick me up and wanting to be with me. And, thank you for taking the time to plan annual car trips during the summer where I got a chance to see much of the United States and spend time with you that I missed the rest of the year.
What about you? How much do you know about your dad’s aspirations? His work after high school? How he and your mom met? Here are some questions that you can record in your Father’s Day journal and respond if you know (for giving to your kids some day) or to use as you meet with your dad sometime soon so that you can let him open up some of his life to you.
- How did he and your mom meet? Where did they meet? What did they do on their first date?
- Did he go to college or some kind of post-high school education or training?
- What was their first REAL job after high school?
- Did he have a group of “buddies” he hung around with, was he a loner or maybe a couple of friends?
- Did he ever dream of doing something that he still hasn’t done (or didn’t do if he’s no longer alive or available)?
- What was his best friends name?
- What were his favorite hobbies?
- Did he serve in the military? If so, was it voluntary or was he drafted? If drafted was he afraid? What were his first thoughts when he found out he was drafted?
- Where was the first place he and your mom lived after getting married?
- Where were they married? Have you seen pictures of their wedding? Make a copy and include in the journal.
Well, those questions should give you a more well rounded picture of the young man your dad was. I pray you are finding this helpful and that the time you are investing to get to know your dad will be a great benefit to you and your relationship. It can even take a good relationship with your dad and make it better. Share what you’ve experienced in the comments section or maybe what you feel when you think about asking your dad these questions or getting to know him in a more deeply intimate way. Maybe you are hesitant? Share that. Thanks for participating and I’m praying for you!!