A word about our fathers

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John O'Connor, Editorial Director
John O'Connor, Editorial Director
It has been said that as children get older, their fathers get smarter.

I'm not just hoping this chestnut is true; I'm counting on it. With my own kids in high school and college, I'm ready for my reputation to experience a much-needed revival. But I'm not convinced that a return to respectability is just around the corner.

So it goes in the father business. All too often, dads are like referees: largely unnoticed until something bad happens.

That's especially the case in nursing homes, where most residents tend to be of the female persuasion. Or did you not notice which day served as the official kick-off for National Nursing Home Week? But as Father's Day nears, it's a good time to consider the role our dads played and continue to play in our lives.

I've come to learn that relationships between fathers and their children can range from comfortable to complicated, with most falling somewhere in between. My own father was hardly a wealthy man. Blue collar guys with nine children to feed, clothe and raise rarely are. He didn't spend much time contemplating the finer points of Keats, or a well-made rack of lamb. Nor did his children give much thought to pending summer retreats. But we did have something that many kids from affluent households can only dream about: plenty of access. He was home each night and every weekend.

In fact, there were many times when I had more access than I would have preferred. This was especially the case when he needed a hand mixing plaster, sweating pipes or doing any of the never-ending household repair and remodeling projects that always seemed to require a helper.

While I didn't always enjoy being volunteered, I took comfort in spending time with my father. It allowed me to see how hard he worked. Our time together helped me realize that he was fond of me, and that there was nothing he would not do for his children.

Which brings us to June 19, Father's Day. If conditions and a good relationship allow, try to spend some time with the old boy. If your father is no longer alive, it may be a good day for revisiting good memories of him. If you are one of the unfortunates still in a tough relationship, consider some fence mending. You'd be amazed at what you can fix when you work with your father.