Today I Followed In My Father's Footsteps

Today I Followed In My Father's Footsteps

This afternoon I picked up my infant son from daycare for the first time. Okay no big deal right?

Well not really, see two days a week my son goes to the daycare where his mother/my wife works (the other days my mother watches him at home), but once a month or so they have staff meetings or training after hours.

So then to save my son from being in daycare for 12 or more hours, then I go get him. Trust me, I want to get him and have that dad/son time but this is special.

See 30 years ago I attended the grade school my mother taught at and though I was much older than my son is now. I know the routine and when it was report card pick up day (back when Chicago Public Schools had it from 1-6 in the evening), and my now late father was not working nights that week (he worked swing shift, one week mornings, one week evenings), then my dad would come and get me.

I always looked forward to having my dad come and get me on those days, it didn’t happen often (report card pick up was I believe only twice a year at that time), and my dad and I always had some “deep” conversations. It usually wasn’t about school, I was an honor student at the time and my dad didn’t say much to me about academics at that time, except make sure my work was done.

Our conversations were usually about things going on in the neighborhood or with the family. I remember one in particular that must have been the fall of 1986 for my dad’s sports car was new (pictured), and he was explaining how the south shore school I attended (Paul Revere), was in a much different (more rough), neighborhood than our home in West Pullman. And that I needed to be “aware” of the differences and know “how to handle myself”.

Remember I’m 10 years old and in fourth grade but that conversation opened my eyes. Up until then the whole thing of me going to my mother’s school had been fairly controversial and not a popular decision and a struggle for me (I hated it and told everyone so), and I thought my concerns went on deaf ears with my dad since he didn’t do anything about.

But from his conversation that day, I could tell he was serious as a heart attack” (as he would say), and had thought about this issue a long time before talking to me about it. I can clearly remember sitting in his car on east 72nd Street and thinking “wow he is aware of what I’m going through” and “I’m not alone in this”.

I never saw my dad in the same light after that day (prior I wondered if cared what I was going through because he had so many other things going on and I never heard what I wanted to hear), and though that day his response still wasn’t the “Get out of jail free card”, that I desired. Still he let me know he had my back and comprehended this was not easy.

One other thing about my dad was that as we aged many times when we were together we didn’t talk, we didn’t need to, there was an understanding that was quintessential of a good father son relationship. Didn’t matter if we were fishing, eating, going somewhere or working on a car, we often just didn’t say a lot if anything.

Now back to my infant son, I strongly desire to have that relationship with him and be able to talk to him about serious issues and for us to have that trust and also that silent understanding.

But it turns out my son wasn’t feeling well and had a tough day, he didn’t sleep in my truck on the way home and I quickly grabbed some drive through dinner and then ate and simply held him for 90 minutes until his mother came home. Often my son tries to talk even at his young age and I respond but this evening was one of those evenings where there was nothing to say. I simply supported him and let him know I had his back.

At one point I just looked out the window at the sky with tears in my eyes and thought of the incredible example my father left for me.

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