Sometimes in looking over court records I come across stories of men who beat their wives and land behind bars. More often than not they are their father’s son.
Other tales reveal men who grew up in an environment where running with the wrong crowd was a family tradition handed down from Dad.
Outside of the court system you see instances in which fathers and sons share the same interest. Or stage. Rocker Eddie Van Halen and his son Wolfgang come to mind. As do Kirk and Michael Douglas.
Or even George Bush I and II.
The obvious takeaway to all this is who we are dealt as parents is a crap shoot. One roll of the cosmic dice determines if we’re winners or losers.
Despite what my critics might say, I’m not the latter.
When I was in grade school the man I call father dressed down a sales clerk who had accused me of stealing and sent me home crying. The second time I left that store it was with an apology.
Years later my father and I stood with hundreds of others outside the federal detention facility in San Diego. The candles we held that night were a show of support for a 19-year-old kid who refused to register for the draft.
And later still my father told my high school vice-principal that while I deserved a suspension for breaking the rules I did not deserve to be manhandled.
The administrator was a former university lineman and my father was a faint shadow by comparison. But that morning he stood his ground and appeared to be three times as tall.
My father was my grandfather’s son. That man grew up in a different country in a different time.
The man I called Grandpa — family lore goes — fought to have schools built in his town. He also fought to preserve his wife’s honor and is said to have challenged someone to a duel (he must have won because here I am).
When political pressure threatened his family my grandfather fled, leaving his family behind to establish a life for them here in the States. My dad finally came to San Diego when he was about 13 years old.
My father learned from his that you stand up for what you believe in. You defend your beliefs. And your family.
The roll of the dice came up in my favor. I lucked out.
I do not know if I have followed in my father’s footsteps. If I haven’t I would like to think one day I will.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. And to the moms who play dad too.