It is too rare what I have, two spectacularly loving parents who coincidentally love each other as well. Still, understanding that I also someday want to be a competent father with strong arms and too much advice, I particularly idolize my own father in a way that everyone should have the privilege to do.
Because he is always muttering advice like clean up your own mess and never drive behind a car with a mattress on its roof. Advice like treat secretaries, custodians and garbage men with respect because they do the hard work. Advice like wear your seatbelt, and don’t be afraid to use a band-aid if it hurts.
I grew up in northwest New Jersey, a gentle swath of rural America that is only now being discovered by the faceless, suburban sprawl of family-style chain restaurants and one-stop shopping. I was freckle-faced, loved my mother’s cooking and posed for Norman Rockwell paintings.
As a child, summers were sandlot baseball, swimming pools and the smell of fresh-cut grass. For my father, it was work, driving me to the school yard, skimming the water, and firing up the lawnmower. I got older and learned the difference.
I got older and learned that a lot of my father’s muttering had a great deal of relevance to my interaction with a world that seems to get larger and more daunting the older I get. Now I try to incorporate into my life all of his advice. I pay the sum of my monthly credit card bill on first notice and always change lanes when I see anything on a car roof. I believe everyone needs a source of unsolicited suggestions, nagging reminders that inevitably, perhaps frustratingly, become unappreciatively dependable with time.
I live in Philadelphia now, having wanted a big city experience like many my age, and don’t see either of my parents as much anymore. Such is the passing of time. Still, I look to him. My father is an easy choice for a role model. Easy choices aren’t always lazy ones. All of what he does and stands for has formed my idea of what a man is, of what a man should be. Fortunately, he is still influencing the decisions I make. Whether he knows it or not, I’m watching, I’m listening. With two parents like mine, I have an awfully good foundation. And plenty of advice.
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