I Came Home For My Father’s Birthday and It’s All His Fault

dj and dad

My father is turning sixty-six tomorrow.

Yesterday he did the cutest thing. He called me to tell me he just ordered the Samsung Note 2 – the exact same phone I have. I had been talking up how great it is a few weeks back and he must have been listening. This is interesting because my father is not very technologically savvy. He’s no Luddite, but not exactly writing php in his spare time. He’s a dad. You know – types with two fingers, still doesn’t understand that Internet Explorer isn’t the internet. Heck – still uses Internet Explorer.

Anyway, I suspect he has a ulterior motive for getting the phone. To strengthen our relationship. First, it’s exciting to him to have me show all the bells and whistles of the phone and how to use it. That’s an activity we can do together.  It just occurred to me today that this has been a pattern over the years.

About ten years ago my dad decided to pick up the drums. He had played when he was younger, but then thirty-five years passed without stick hitting skin. He bought a drum set, hired a teacher, and started practicing like crazy. Prior to this, my father had only one major obsession – golf. When I asked my mother why he would start playing drums at his age for no apparent reason, she said, “Don’t you see? He wants to play with you.” (I’ve been playing guitar for over twenty years). Although he never said it, I believe he wanted to get good enough where we could jam together.

A few years back I started this blog. Almost immediately, the man who had never written creatively said, “I think I want to write a book of my funny and touching golf stories.” I convinced him to put them in serial fashion online. I built him a blog which he wrote regularly called GolfWithDelbo. Again, part of the reason to start the blog was to have this shared experience with his son, the blogger. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent over the phone teaching him how to use and publish to the site.

I’m writing this post from Peoria where I drove down from Chicago to celebrate his birthday. I’m pretty sure my father (and mother) have never missed one of my birthdays. They always drive up and make a big to-do about it. It would never occur to me not to come down for his – even though he wouldn’t care if I did miss it.

I’ve said before that the acid test for how well you have done as a parent will be seen when your kids hit thirty. Are they calling often to see how you’re doing? Do they drive or fly home to spend holidays and birthdays? This is the scoreboard of parenting. If your kids still want something to do with you after they’ve left the nest you’ve done a capital job. If not, you blew it.

While I didn’t feel like my father actually liked me growing up (we didn’t share many common interests), he has really tried in my adulthood to bring us closer. The effort put in is nothing short of remarkable, and a true testament to his character.

I realize that I’m incredibly lucky to have someone like this in my life. Some people draw a bad parent hand, and I’m saddened to think of how much that must stink. I’m fortunate, and I try not to take it for granted. Happy Birthday, Dad.

dj and dad