Posting photos of you with your parent(s) at a young age seems to be the hip thing to do on Mother’s/Father’s Day. I’ve recently started enjoying taking part in the trend; not because I want to show the world how perfect my family is or how great of a relationship I have with my parents, but because it’s a healthy reminder of where I came from, the good and bad times that lead up to where I am now – reminders of inspirations and encouragements that I may or may not have realized had such an impact on my life.
My father isn’t blood-related. In fact, I think I was already 7 or 8 when he came into my life as my mom’s boyfriend. I didn’t want much to do with Chuck for a while mostly because I thought he was wanting to take my mom away from me. I also thought he intended to take my dad’s place, wanted to make me something I wasn’t, wanted to replace me in his and my mom’s relationship with his younger daughter – my super-rad sister, Morgan. It was a hard transition on an only child with a weird family situation.
Over the years our relationship had ups and downs. Our personality differences became more and more defined – his interests included sports, hunting, working on the farm – mine included video games, my imaginary world where my action figures lived and generally staying indoors – my attitude left a lot to be desired, he wasn’t too keen on putting up with it – he tried to instill good qualities in me like being polite and speaking to old friends and family and tucking my shirt in when I went to school, I grew up shy with a fairly small group of friends and thought it was silly to tuck in an AC/DC t-shirt.
Yet as I grew older I also grew to appreciate him a little more. The life lessons he gave me wasn’t just a prism of multi-colored smoke he was blowing. He was the father-figure that was there for me at all the sporting events, the awards ceremonies, the graduations, helping snap photos at proms, quietly stepping over my friends who slept over. And sure, he did make fun of me a lot back when I wouldn’t eat at McDonald’s because I was convinced their cheese was bad and when I believed it when someone told me “juking” would be illegal in pee-wee football, but here we are 20 years later with the best relationship we’ve ever had. Even if we didn’t, however, I would still love and respect the man because he’s so good to my mother. I’m forever in his debt for that, especially since I’m not at home anymore.
Because of him, I know what it means to be a gentleman – how to handle random incidents at home and in life in general – how to have a strong marriage – that it’s okay to “be myself” even if “myself” isn’t exactly what he had in mind when he told me that years ago. He’ll never know what it meant to me when he’d play Sega Genesis with me as a child – playing NBA Jam TE with me laughing at him for shooting from the wrong side of the court and I would shoot hook shots from the top of the key and make every one of them – or NHL Hockey Night where I’d check him during the whole game and steal the puck – or ToeJam and Earl: Battle on Funkatron where he would get flustered and proclaim “Can’t get on the…Damn bubble!!”. Now, about 20 years later, he’ll never know what those late-night talks in the living room over a couple bottles of beer mean and how they help me even now.
Ever since we played this old PGA Golf Tournament game on the Game Gear he got me for Christmas in the early years and I accidentally left a typo in his name, I’ve known him as Chubk, which may sound stupid, but what an awesome symbol of the last 20 years: a little bit silly, but always there for you to play another 18 holes even if you’re not very good and sometimes finish the game at 20 over par. Thanks, Chubk. Thanks for everything.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there. We now return to our regularly scheduled food porn: Father’s Day Brunch Steak & Eggs!