Who is that good lookin’ kid? And oh yeah, and it looks like his little boy is looking up at him like he rules the universe.
Nobody knows at this point what the next forty-five years or so will bring, but is’s amazing how those little boys eyes will change who he sees, who he is, and thankfully for the grace of God finally bring the circle back around again.
He was my giver of life, my provider, my protector, my hero
….and then I started talking.
I was not an easy child. Stubborn, independent, curious to a fault, always questioning anything and everything. Never accepting anything I was told. I had to experience everything for myself.
“Don’t touch that stove, Little Tony!”
“…Why shouldn’t I touch that stove?! ” “I’ll touch it if I want!”
“Don’t stick that fork in the socket, Little Tony!”
“…how else am I going to know how it works?!” “I’ll do it if I want”
“LITTLE TONY!!! NOOO!!! DON’T!!!”
And that’s the way it all began. An irresistible force, meeting an immovable object. Something’s gotta give.
I did. I also began to look out at him, with different eyes.
“My giver of life?, I’m already here.”
“My provider?, Like he has a choice.”
“My hero? All he does is stop me from doing things my way.”
I suppose no son truly understands their father at this time of their life and I think it valid to say no father really understands their son.
Both are kids and not yet men.
Both at different times in their development. In my case, one will always be 18 years ahead the other.
It wasn’t until I was able to catch up to the “kid” in the picture, when I turned 18, that things would slowly began to bring the journey of the hero I let go back into my eyes.
At this point, I was set out to prove to the world I could do it my way, on my time, at my discretion.
“I know it all, and what I don’t, I’ll figure out along the way.”” …oh, but wait… I, ummm….I do need my Grandma to be my safety net. For all my bravado, I was still just the little boy in the picture.
A crutch that turned into a blessing occurred right there. My Grandma, my father’s mother. My Grandma’s love began to change my outlook on life, the universe and everything. My father also moved about an hour away.
Part of me missed him desperately, but another part felt free to try and become my own immovable object. In my way, in my time.
10 years pass. Tragedy strikes. My Grandmother passes. She had taught me so much about how to live in those short ten years.
I took it all in.
I listened to every story.
I learned from every one of her cautionary tales.
I absorbed all I saw in her.
Sadly, I allowed my stubborn nature to prevent me from applying any of it.
…but progress was being made…
Grandma’s wisdom, the teachings she gave both my dad me, although 18 years apart, begin blending with all of the advice, knowledge, life lessons I had hidden away in my heart from my Dad.
There is, however, a big difference between knowing and understanding. I was still going to do it my way.
10 more years pass. My life changed in such dramatic ways. I’ve met, fell in love, married and divorced the only person that truly opened not only my eyes but my heart to the world that we exist in. That state of peace of mind and contentment that I never knew was there. But that is a story worthy of its own place in my history. You’ll get to hear it. It’s a great love story.
Back to the Kid and the little Boy.
We love each other. We play the father and son game of a convenient distance. Not too far away, but not too close either.
You know the usual. Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, maybe one or too more times a year. Everyone is politely numb to the lack of reality in our lives. We work, we eat, we sleep, we talk to each other from behind our masks time to time about the mundane crap of life that is just that. Filler.
We know we love each other to the core, but we only know each other on the surface. Or so I think.
For the third time in his life, we are both single. In Dad’s case, there was the time before me time, my mom, and now number two is gone. For me it’s only the second time…the time before Carmelita and the after…but once again that’s a story for a different time.
What was so important about this, was that I saw a broken man with the same eyes as me. A quiet scream that only those have felt it can recognize.
Wait a minute, wait just a damn minute. How can my larger than life hero be as damaged as me. I spent my whole life believing doing it my way was more painful because I didn’t do it his way.
Something is not adding up here.
This is not the way things should be….he’s…he’s…human? He’s.. my Dad! Now I see he is just a man. He didn’t have all the answers. Hell, he didn’t even know what the questions were.
He’s just like me.
Both a genius and an idiot. Both Superman and the puppies from the animal shelter commercials. How did I not seen this until now?
A few more years pass and he meets his Carmelita. He begins to heal. He begins to soften around the edges and becomes….not the only the word…but the essence of….happy.
You can feel it.
Even a few more years go by, he moves back closer to the little Boy. He is still 18 years ahead physically, but spiritually and mentally I feel I have finally caught up him. He would disagree, but we grew together through my 51 years on this planet. I’ve seen things he could only imagine…at the same time the ol’ man has seen a lot that I probably couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
I’ve seen my Dad throughout so many different eyes over the years. Little Tony still looks up to Big Tony with that same wonderment. That same desire to make him proud and happy.
I’ve done O.K.. Could’ve done things a lot better, could have really crashed and wrecked the Chevy S-10 of my life. I survived a little bruised, but generally a good man.
Now I don’t see my Dad as larger than life, my provider, my protector. Over the years, he is once again my hero.
Not because he has any answers. Not because he’s got it all together (he doesn’t). He is my hero because he is a man.
Old in body, young in heart.
Wise in knowledge, but the biggest fool you know.
He is me. as I am him. and we are all together, (thank you John and Paul).
I realize that his journey through my minds eye has always my journey through his.
The circle is complete. Who is that good lookin’ old man in the picture? And oh yeah, and it looks like his Dad is looking up at him like he rules the universe.
Love you Dad, thank you for loving me.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
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