The Johnny OMA I remember well because my brother broke it over my head one day during one of our altercations. The pair of six-shooters I remember with the help of an 8mm film, one I haven’t seen in decades. I was a freckled face, auburn-haired kid, with a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat twirling my guns on Christmas Day.
The best gift I ever got back in those days was a rare one from my dad (I called him dad, but he was mostly just my father). At the time, he was a truck driver delivering sod to homes in new subdivisions. One day, when I was about 10-11, he asked me if I wanted to go on one of his deliveries. I was stunned a bit. He never asked any of us to go anywhere. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and couldn’t wait for the next morning! I remember so many details of that day – the climb up into the cab of the truck, the tall gearshift that my dad had to maneuver back and forth, the ragged seat, the mostly cloudy warm day, and the flat green fields of the sod farm where we picked up the rolled up grass.
I don’t remember much conversation that day. It would have been difficult with the noise of the engine, which billowed out black smoke, visible as I looked back out the window; it wasn’t too difficult without the constraint of a seat belt. My dad was a hard worker and a pleasant guy when he was sober, and he usually was when driving for work. We didn’t have much in common and we really didn’t know each other very well. I liked baseball, he didn’t. He was not around much and I don’t think he lived with us then. He rarely was in town, often at sea as a merchant marine. But I had a wonderful time that day!
I didn’t need to get whacked over the head to remember this adventure with my father, nor did I need a video to solidify my memory. The opportunity to be alone with my dad was so cool to me. I was special that day and it felt good! I really wanted him in my life, even with all the heartaches he caused to my mom and siblings.
Dads, you are so awesome to your kids! You are more awesome than today’s video games or any electronic gadget. Will they love you if you buy them the latest cool thing owned by their friends? Yes. Will they love you if you don’t? Yes. Will they look back on their childhood with fond memories of the things you bought them? No! Will they look back fondly on the time you spent with them? You had better believe it!
Don’t be fooled by a teen’s seeming non-interest in you. It’s not real. Remember how excited your children were to see you as toddlers, when it was natural for them to run to you. Their love is not as obvious any longer because they have so many other things to think about and, of course, the need to be cool. So give your kids your time in every stage of their lives. Their moments and memories with you will be your greatest legacy!