Fathers Day – Lessons Learned

He left the house when I was 4.
Not much time to get a sense of who the man really was. His history, his present, his dreams.Even just basic dad stuff, as it was not a good exit.
When I was 18, I went to live with him to find out more.
Every night, we would sit at the kitchen table, when the rest of the house had gone to bed.
Smoking Doral cigarettes, and having a cup of tea, the conversations were almost an interview . His history was revelatory, and would be punctuated with documents.

A radio script he performed in, TV show pilot idea pitched to Goodson-Todmann, complete with a kinescope of a sample show, tracking the timeline from ambitions to responsibility.
We both smoked those nasty cigarettes.
All of the answers never came, but so much was brought to light. Needing to know the man, who shaped who became the father, was important for this young man to understand.
He always thought that photography was interesting, and was a hobby of his, but considered not a profession to continue. Not very easy to make a living. And this was as I was beginning on my pro photo career as an assistant photographer in the world of advertising in NYC.
Was the lesson to start with dreams, then settle into life needs?
Maybe. Every silver lining has a dark reality cloud seemed to be his method of operation. Maybe a defense mechanism, heading off disappointment.
His love, support, and dedication was never in question.
An emotional man, the kitchen conversations gave me empathy in this complicated situation.
In this photo, from a series, he just feels as relaxed as I’ve ever known him.
I hope I learned from him.
I hope I’ve been a good father myself.
Always trying to be better.
Happy Fathers Day to all of you out there!

Post Script:
Here I am with my daughter, in a teachable moment from awhile back. She’s now a teacher. Proud to be her father. Honestly, I’ve always felt that fathers Day was a Hallmark Holiday. Not sure if my history influenced that, or not. Just a good day to share a story.

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