Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Un-obligatory Father's Day Post

I am writing this for Father's Day, but not because it's Father's Day.  It's not something I feel I have to do.  It's something I want to do.
I'm writing it because Father's Day simply reminded me of what it has been like for me to be a father.  I've said before that any good that I accomplished as a father is not due to my own abilities.  If I have ever been good as a father, it is only because of the quality of my children.  I could not have asked for two better daughters than the two I have.  The women they have become are far beyond what I would have been able to imagine on my own.  I am forever grateful that they were given into my care.

I always think of my own father at this time.  Actually, I think of him quite often.  I have so many questions for him.  My father killed himself when I was 15, and my ability to get any answers was effectively stifled.  I would have wanted to know what it was like for him when he first became a father.  Mostly I would have liked for my daughters to have known him. 
When I look back at my life with my father I have to acknowledge that despite all of his faults, he was, ultimately, a good father to me.  In saying that I have to qualify it with the fact that I am the youngest of six children, and my siblings experiences with my father were very different than mine. 
My father was an alcoholic.  The last time I saw him he was drunk.  And yet, despite this, to me he was a good father.  My memories of life with him were generally positive.  He was a firm disciplinarian which I can attest to having felt the thickness of the calluses on his hands when he spanked me on my bare backside.  I also have to admit that I earned every spanking I got.  The other times when I had his attention were when he played catch with me, or showed me what he was working on in the garage whether it was a car or carpentry project.  I remember distinctly one time when he was making some bookends for my sister Diane, and he asked my opinion on how the pieces of wood looked when arranged in a certain way.  "I like them that way." I said.  He looked at me and smiled and said, "Ok.  Then that's the way I'll do it."  In that one moment of my childhood I felt completely valued by him.

I have to say though, that despite how his life ended, he was a good father to me, and I believe this is due in large part to my older siblings.  Their life with my father was very different than mine.  Their experiences with his alcoholism and controlling personality were far more direct, and frequent, than mine ever were.   I believe very firmly that my mother, my brothers and my sisters taught him to be a good father.  They took upon themselves all the pain in their relationships with him, and in effect, extended a Grace that covered me before I was even born.  They protected me so that I might have the good father that they missed.  They made him a good father for me.
And even beyond that, when I went to live at different times with my brother Bill, and later with my sister Diane, they became the parents I needed which is a debt I can never adequately repay, and one they would never ask me to.

For this I will always be grateful to all of them. 

In addition to all this I learned that God directly replaced my father's presence with His own when I finally chose to listen to Him.  This was the single most important choice I have made in my life, and I have never regretted it. 

Now I look at my own daughters, and I will never be able to express how grateful I am to be their father.  With all of the pain and sorrow inflicted upon them in their lives they still choose to love me.  And again that Grace is extended to me, and it makes my life more than worth it.

I am blessed beyond measure.

So, on Father's Day, the only gift I will ever want is to know that my children actually want to be near me.  I could ask for nothing better, nor desire anything more.

To my daughters, Jennifer and Kaytie, thank you for letting me be your father.

©Dan Bode 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Follow Your Doctor's Orders or You Will Lose Your Beard - Things You Never Think Will Happen To You

A few months ago I went to my doctor and told her I was having trouble sleeping, and asked if I could get something to help.  This is probably something you should never do.  Because they have stuff that will help, but it helps just a little too much.  I had tried all the herbal natural remedies and they just weren't doing anything.  So I went in to the office and we discussed my options.

She told me the primary stuff available (which will go unnamed by me) was effective, but it had some side effects.

"If you have problems with sleep-walking then you shouldn't take this, because it will make it worse."

"I've never had a problem with sleep-walking."

"Ok, we can try this first then.  Seriously though if you find stuff has been moved around in your house and you don't remember doing it you need to stop taking it."

"Umm.... ok..."

"I'm totally serious.  Take it right before you get in bed.  Don't take it and wait for it to start working, and then start doing chores or something.  You'll wind up doing stuff you didn't mean to."

"No problem!", I said, laughing.  I mean, really, what could happen?

So I took it home and tried it a few times, and it seemed to work ok.  I didn't need it again for a while and had more or less forgotten about it until the other night.  I had been coughing a lot due to my allergies, and having trouble falling asleep.  I decided this might be a good time to use it again.  So I took a pill, and, instead of going straight to bed, I decided to finish watching the show I had recorded earlier which had about 45 minutes remaining. 
I finished the show and walked into the bathroom.  I looked in the mirror and realized that I hadn't trimmed my beard properly for about a week and a half.  It was looking a little shaggy.  I picked up the trimmer and started trimming. 
Everything after this is kind of a bizarre haze....
One minute I was trimming, and then the trimmer was going straight across my chin and it was GONE! 
I could see my chin! 
I just stared at myself.
"Hmmm...  Something's different.... "
I looked down at my hand at the trimmer buzzing away contentedly.  Puzzled, I turned it off.  I set it down. 
I looked in the mirror. 
"My beard is gone...  When did that happen?..."
I had a vague memory of running the trimmer straight across my chin instead of just trimming the edges...  Suddenly I wondered if this is what Pooh Bear feels like when he says, "Oh bother..."
Then a thought surfaced, "I think I did something wrong...  I should go to bed.  Yup.  That's what I was going to do."
I moved to go to bed, and remembered my dog, Bean.  He needed to go to bed too.  Sometimes Bean has a problem settling down when it's time for bed so I got him a special collar that helps him relax.  It's green and plastic and it's loaded with pheromones that supposedly makes him think comforting thoughts about his mother or something like that.  I'm not sure if that's what he really thinks about or not, but I do know every time I put it on him he gets all Zen on me and lays down and looks happy.  And he sleeps pretty well.
I had the collar in my hand, and I honestly remember wondering if I should put it on myself.  But I realized that I didn't really need to think about Bean's mother.
I slowly and deliberately made a point of locking every single door and window in the house.  I think I examined the locks pretty well too.  I went to bed.  I think.  I remember laying down while Bean and I stared at each other.  He had his collar on which, by the way, I noticed actually glows in the dark.  He looked content.  I remember waking up briefly to the sound of Bean quietly "woofing" in his sleep.  Probably dreaming of running through a field of high grass next to his mother.
I woke up the next morning and went in to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. 
My beard was gone. 
My chin was naked for the world to see. 
I now have two new rules:
1. I am never taking one of those pills again.  Unless I decide to shave my beard off.
2. Follow the doctor's orders or you will lose your beard.
©Dan Bode 2014