My Father’s Day Apprenticeship

Today is Father’s Day, which is something I’ve been looking forward to since well, 3:12 in the morning on October 20, when Cora was born. And of course, I’ve spent a lot of time with her already today, soaking up all the smiles and cuddles I can. So far, it’s been a great day, and it’s not even noon.

I’ve talked a lot in this space about how nervous I was to become a father. But I haven’t talked enough about the reason I was confident that I was going to be a great one. And that reason is simple: For the first 33 years of my life, I had an apprenticeship in fatherhood at Tom Bohn, Incorporated. And when you learn from the master, you pick up a few things.

My father was, without a doubt, the best father you could ask for. Want proof? I’m going to show you a picture, which won’t seem like much at first. But from this picture, you’re going to learn why my father is the greatest man I’ve ever met, and the reason I’m the father I am.

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“Come on Welch! Throw it to the tight end!” – Dad

There it is. Now, I know what you’re thinking: This was just another excuse for me to post a picture of Bomber football. Fair point. But it’s so much more than that. Let’s break down why this photo proves my dad is the best.

  1. He passes on his passions: As hard as it is to believe, I was not born a Bombers fan. It’s something I inherited from my father, who started taking me to games at Butterfield in 1988 (a magical year in Bombers history), when I was only five years old.

    He took me to nearly every home game from kindergarten to college, and we still go to games today. Sitting next to my Dad as we watched the Bombers has always been one of my fondest childhood memories. And this fall, I’m going to pass on the passion to Cora, just like he passed it on to me.

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    “Seriously! The tight end!”
  2. He’s always wants the best for his children, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen: As you can see in this picture, my father and I are sitting at the top of the stands at Butterfield Stadium, which is a view second to none in college football. And as I’ve alluded to, although I love Butterfield, it straddles the line between mostly inaccessible and completely inaccessible, mostly due to the lack of handrails in the bleachers.

    But my father would be dammed if that meant we weren’t going to get the best seats in the house. He’d always take my arm and let me lean on him so I could sit wherever I wanted. Forget the bottom row. And the weather wasn’t always as amazing as it was in this picture. He’d walk me up those bleachers in a snowstorm, just because I begged him to let me sit near the pep band. (Which was awesome. Thanks Dad!).

    Now that I’m a father, I know I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Cora has the things she wants (Well, except for a pony. Those are expensive, honey.)

  3. He always pushed me: Even though it would have been easier (and in retrospect, safer) to sit somewhere else, my father knew that, in addition to providing a better view, getting to the top of the bleachers would require me to well, walk to the top of the bleachers. And that’s no easy task for someone with Cerebral Palsy. But my Dad never let me use my disability as an excuse not to do something. He knew that all the effort I put in was going to pay off in the long run. If I wanted to sit up with the band, or the very top row, I was going to have to work for it. Not only did that lead to that great picture you see, it’s carried over into everything I do, and it’s made me a better father.
  4. He always puts his family first: My dad likes going to Bombers games, don’t get me wrong. But I loved going to Bombers games. In fact, it was probably my favorite thing to do in the world. I’m sure there were Saturdays when my Dad was tired, or busy, or not feeling well, and he just wanted to stay home. But he never once told me we couldn’t go to a game if I asked. Because not only did he want me to have a great day, he wanted to spend time with me.

    I think that’s the biggest thing he’s passed on to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve declined to go somewhere with friends because I was planning on having family time. As my DVR can attest, I watch a fraction of the TV I used to, because I’m too busy trying to teach Cora how to eat puffs, or playing airplane, or singing songs. Spending time with her is the best part of my day, and I owe a lot of that to the fact that my Dad always made it clear that spending time with his children was the best part of his.

So on this, my first Father’s Day, I’m thankful not only for the beautiful family I have, but for the man who taught me how to be a father.

Thanks, dad. I love you.

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