Evil-eyed. Soft-hearted. Absent. Spare-the-rod. Disciplinarian. Mediator. Coach. Present. Dads have as many parenting styles and roles as there are men on Earth. For the most part, they do the best they can.
There is more than one reason my dad was known as Mighty Moe. Besides his playful yet hard-working nature, he had a toughness about him. Though deeply personal life tragedies tempered that toughness with a softness at his core. When thinking about him recently, I was reminded of his empathy.
Just wait 'til your father gets home.
If Dad spoke or moved fast, you were likely in for it. When Mom said, “you just wait 'til your father gets home,” we took note of the time. It was going to be a long day. Often, though, if he hadn't witnessed the shenanigans himself, the retelling of the transgression had softened in the hours before his return home from driving the semi. Or perhaps once Mom let fly the warning, it was enough motivation to consider being angelic the remainder of the day. I imagine he understood we had served our punishment by suffering the anguish of waiting for him.
On the rare occurrences when Daddy came to our bedrooms upstairs, it likely meant one of us was in trouble. Long-legged and six feet tall, he always took the stairs two at a time. Moving that fast made his pocket change jingle, so we knew he was coming. No time to hide! And barely enough to appear contrite.
Suddenly we heard the pocket change jingle.
One day, after returning from our maternal grandmother's funeral, we were hanging around our bedrooms stunned, crying and upset, when suddenly we heard the pocket change jingle. He was coming fast, and we looked at each other wide-eyed and wondering, "What've we done wrong?" Our only crime, this time, was our wailing, heard all through the house, triggered wave after wave of sorrow for Mom. Daddy hugged us and said, "Every time you cry, Mumma starts crying again. For her sake, try to quiet down."
Another time, he returned from work appearing rather subdued. After he relaxed and sat awhile, he told us earlier that day, just as he barrelled over the crest of a hill on a county road, two farm dogs ran straight for the truck to give chase as some dogs like to do. There was no way he could stop the semi without causing a wreck and putting his life in danger. The dogs died instantly. He felt terrible and stopped the truck at the bottom of the hill. He walked back uphill to knock on the farmhouse door. Dad apologized to the woman who thanked him and said, "It was bound to happen."
Yes, Dad did the best he could.
What are your favorite Dad stories? Can you recognize his gentleness inside the tough exterior? If your father is living, what will you tell him this Father's Day?
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