A bit of a premature Father’s Day homage to my old man

de old man

We have Father’s Day coming up on the 15th of the month. Since I am not a father (to my knowledge) and my own father is long-since deceased it shouldn’t meant that much to me.

Yet, in a kind of odd way it does. It’s an ‘odd’ way because I sometimes don’t understand my own emotions on matters paternal.

In that I have always envied those who have a deep personal bond with their fathers. I have known such people.

Some facts about me, my dad, and life with the senior Lidster:

– I did not have a father for the first 2 /1/2 years of my life. He was away with the navy. One day he arrived at the door with a duffel bag and bell-bottom trousers, and I said: “Mother, who is that bastard?” Well, I didn’t say that but I’ll be I thought it. Now I was going to have to share her. Oh, and he didn’t have bell-bottoms as he was a petty officer and they wore regular trousers. But I have noticed on NCIS that petty officers get bumped off with much regularity. I think I understand why that happens.

– my father was a harsh-taskmaster. He brooked no misbehavior, insolence, rudeness or any of the other facets of juvenility. If I, in dealing with my father, were as rude as some contemporary kids I wouldn’t be here to write this. He did not beat us. In fact, I don’t really remember his having laid a hand on me or my brothers, but he yelled, and he slammed doors, and stamped his feet and was a really immature prick sometimes, and he was scary, too. But I’ll excuse him for a bit of his bad behavior as he was treated most cruelly by his own Victorian father, who actually did beat him. Ironically, I really liked his dad, my grandfather and double irony, he liked me more than my own father appeared to like me.

– I was never sure if my father actually liked me. Loved me? That never entered any realm of speculation.

– My father really loved my first wife, not so much my 2nd, and he never met Wendy.

– My parents did not get on and they had seemingly incessant rows, but they stuck it out. I have no idea why, but my father was also very responsible and if he had made a commitment he would stick to it.

– My father taught me how to do a valve job on a car.

Pop– He began his working career as a machinist, and ended up as a college administrator. He told me once he’d rather have stayed a machinist. He felt a kind of honor in dirty fingernails.

– He was never profane in my earshot.

– We once did a big project together, which included pulling the engine and overhauling it from a wreck of a car I picked up as a kid. And we actually got the sonofabitch running and I drove ii for two years. I remember that project as a good time with barely a harsh word between us.

– He was the most skinflinted bastard I have ever known. He would squeeze a penny until it bled. When my first wife and I married he wanted to take the wedding photos. He then wanted to charge us for them. My mother set him straight on that one.

– He was one of the most honorable and honest men I have ever known, and hugely respected in his field. Once during a university summer job I was chatting with a workmate who asked if I was related to Wally Lidster. I said he was my father. Well, my dad had once been the guy’s instructor and he effusively described my father as one of the most wonderful men he’d ever encountered. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were talking about the same guy.

My father died in June of 1996. I realized almost immediately that I actually missed him. I don’t know how or why that happened, but it did. And I miss him just a little bit more with each passing year. I sometimes regret that I didn’t have the sort of relationship with him that others had with their fathers – but perhaps I had the one I was meant to have.

8 responses to “A bit of a premature Father’s Day homage to my old man

  1. You did indeed have the one you were meant to have. It can be very hard for boys and their fathers, and once ‘Dad’ is gone from this Earth there is a good bit of regret for many.
    I really like what you wrote, it’s nice. 😀

  2. My father will be 84 in July. Growing up I always wanted his attention but being a girl, it seemed he was so distant. My 2 brothers had most of his attention and time. My sister was not as shy as me and when she wanted his attention she would climb on his lap and demand it. I stood on the sidelines watching, hoping and wondering. One time I told my mother that I did not believe that my dad loved me and I thought John Wayne was my real father. She assured me that she had never met John Wayne. My dad on occasion would let my sister and I take turns dancing with him by standing on his feet while the record played. I treasured that.
    The first time my father ever hugged and kissed me was when I was 36 years old and was having marital problems (husband had started drinking). My husband had stormed out when I made the ultimatum that he stop drinking (our son was 3), and I was so upset I called my mother and both came right away to be with me, My mom had taken my son to put him to bed and my dad sat next to me on the couch. Suddenly he had embraced me and kissed the top of my head. The shock caused me to forget my problem!! My father and I are now closer since that day.

  3. From what you’ve written about your mother, I’m guessing your dad was distant because of her. I think you turned out fine, so he did something right..

  4. Geewits beat me to it, they obviously did something right.

  5. And I thank you both. That’s a lovely compliment.

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