Father’s Day for so many men means a day at the golf course with their dad, possibly watching the US Open, and usually bungling through a difficult gift selection and expression of feelings. Men in America, or maybe men in general have a terrible time expressing their feelings… especially when it comes to talking about them with their father.
My family is no different. With 4 sons and no daughters there wasn’t much “feeling sharing” in our house with my dad, and it was perfectly okay with me. Our house was supposed to be filled with tough, rugged men who didn’t have feelings and would rather wrestle with each other or go play football.
My dad was a product of his father, Robert Joseph Carpenter. The man whose name my son and both carry. He’s gone now… passed away a few years ago at 85, but he wasn’t one to share his feelings with anyone either. As a product of the Korean War I often wondered it would have been like to watch him parent my dad. He was tough and burly, a man who filled the room with his bellowing voice.
Rob Carpenter Jr. came from humble beginnings… and my grandfather from even humbler ones. He was the 5th of 13 children and after his father was injured and could no longer work, most of the children were farmed out to relatives.
Grandpa Bob never graduated high school, but he gave my father a much better life than he had. It was always his “American Dream” to ensure that his children had more opportunities than he did.
The best way to honor someone is to live their advice and as a freshman in high school my father told me something that has been the driving force for my entire life.
On a cold winter morning on the way to school my freshman year we stopped at a light in front a construction site. Watching the tradesman pour out of their trucks and walk across the street he said something that has stuck with me ever since,
“The great thing about America is you are able to go as far as your talent and effort will take you. If you work hard enough you can change the trajectory not only of your lift, but also your family.”
My grandfather had instilled glass windows in high rise buildings in downtown Columbus for decades. It was long hours and grueling labor, but it was the best way he could provide for his family. He allowed my father to earn his way to college and now, through my parents sacrifice they have been able to provide me the life and opportunities that I have today.
There is no possible way to repay them for the life I have been able to live.
So while I love getting gifts for my father… the best gift is living his advice.