Monday, June 10, 2013

Foundations and Examples and the Man I am Today

We all have certain things in our lives that helped define us. Ultimately every day, every decision we make makes us who we are, but there are some events or periods of our lives that give us a foundation for the rest of it to build upon. How old were you when you realized what it meant to be a father? What were you doing when you decided to have children? What made you decide on the career path you are on? What about your music tastes, or humor or recreational activities?

So many of these things are set in place at a young age, influenced by your surroundings at home, school, church. If your dad for example plays the Beatles on the radio on the way to church on Sunday morning, you'll probably like good music, er, I mean rock 'n roll and the smell of ironing boards and aftershave. If you were encouraged to embrace who you are while trying to always make yourself better you will hold yourself to a higher standard and take pride in what you do.

For me, a child of the 80s, the things of influence in my youth are also things of the 80s. Now, I'm not still wearing "Hammer pants" or a mullet, nor am I walking around saying things like "radical", but I was influenced by them, and thus have a great appreciation for cartoons used to sell toys and hip hop sung by football teams. We could grab any year from my youth and find hundreds of influences that made me the man I am today. In 1989, the grass was green, the air was sweet, the Chicago Cubs were NL East champs. I had two parents who were involved, an older brother who I aspired to be like, and a little brother I got to be an example for (and push around a bit). I was confident in school. I knew how to get extra lives in Contra, and warp all the way to World 8 in Super Mario Bros. Life couldn't be better.

I had my parents to thank for the man I was becoming. My mom taught me about respect and how to tie my shoes. My dad gave me a love of sports and taught me how to build and fix things. They were there for me when I had trouble learning a new skill. They supported me as I found my voice and discovered my personality.

Dad knew he had a responsibility to his family.  He knew that he needed to work to earn money to support us, but he also knew he needed to be there physically to support us in many other ways. He worked endless hours at a steel mill, would come home and work on his "honey-do list" and then go out in the yard to have a catch with his three boys. He learned from watching his dad do the same things, and that dedication to my happiness and well-being is what carries me forward today. While I am more than just a dad, being a dad makes up a large part of what I do in my day-to-day life. If my dad could work 80 hour weeks and still make it to my baseball games, watch Star Wars with me, and introduce me to the Beatles on the way to Sunday services, I can be there for my kids. I can take that influence, that of a man who gives his all day-in and day-out and apply it to my family. I can look at 1989, and give it to my kids. I can give them the sports, the music in the car, the projects and the culture. The only thing I can't give them is the Cubs as champions. (maybe next year)

Thank you Dad for giving me that example.
Thank you for being there when I needed a man to look up to.
Thank you for showing me your strength.
Thank you for teaching me how to be a dad.

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