Setting the example—Happy Father’s Day

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Umberto Eco

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(3 AM 26.5 years ago / Tanner Hospital / Julie Cook)

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(groom and best man/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Parenthood has never come with an instruction manual–
much to the frustration of many a first time parent.

On top of not having a step by step manual,
throw in having no clue as how to be a parent—
as your own background of dysfunctional raising,
by two individuals who truly had no business really being parents,
left only an example of what not to do.

Forget manuals, your parents didn’t even try to pretend they knew what they were doing.
Throw in moving 5 times before your were 8. . .throwing out all thoughts of stability.
Throw in alcohol.
Throw in abuse.
Throw in the fact that this was a time when no one talked about such. . .
There were no Betty Ford clinics, no fashionable rehabs, just the state mental hospital.
How were you to tell your friends that your dad’s on another binge and was taken away kicking and screaming?
Throw in the fact your coaches, teachers and friends all saw the bruises, but again, this was a time when such things weren’t discussed out in the open, only in secretive hushed tones.

Mix all of that and the fact that you hadn’t really known what it was to be a husband and now you waited until you were 40 to start a family. . .
You had only one clue as to where you should start. . . you simply knew what NOT to do. . .
And so you ran with it. . .

Add in being. . .
Scared
Frightened
Anxious
Determined to be different
Never to repeat the same offenses you yourself endured.

And so you began your own journey into parenthood, with great trepidation, almost 27 years ago.

It wasn’t easy.
You immediately gave up smoking
You named him yourself
You worked long hours
You changed diapers
You made him laugh for the very first time
You gave him your full attention, each evening you were home, despite having worked 14 hour days
You fed him in the middle of the night allowing your wife some precious sleep
You never wanted to exclude him
You held him tight before his surgery
You cried when he was hurt
You offered him the gift of Nature.
You took him fishing, camping, hunting, hiking
You took him to the ocean’s shore for his very first time
You taught him how to swim
You bought him a boogie board and later a surf board.
You disciplined him when you absolutely had to, and it about killed you
You didn’t care when he couldn’t follow in your same athletic agilities and accomplishments.
You worried
You fretted
You cried
You obsessed
You gave him your old truck
You reluctantly bought him a new truck when he wrecked your old one
You afforded him college, to the place of his dreams, that turned out not to be a dream.
You later helped him settle into a place more suited for him.
Always teaching him how to begin again.
You offered comfort and only the positive when he fell, when he failed, when he lost.

You showed him what it means to be a man.
To be responsible.
To get up and try again when things look hopeless.
You taught him how to run forward. . .running toward the trouble, rather then running from the trouble.
You demonstrated that a man never hides from his troubles or mistakes.
You showed him what unconditional love is all about with your own attention to the father who never deserved your concern or care.
You demonstrated how to be a husband during both the good and the bad life has to offer.
You showed him how to give abundantly when it was little he would receive in return.
You demonstrated how to be honest in a dishonest world.
You taught him to be just, forgiving, strong, determined while keeping a gentle touch.
Reminding him to always walk with integrity while holding his head high. . .

You did this on your own. . .
With no direction
No manual
No help from your own father. . .
You demonstrated to your son, what being a real father is all about. . .
By giving him the greatest gift possible. . .
yourself. . .

Happy Father’s Day my love. . . .

The mystery and adventure found in an old friend

“A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion”
–Umberto Eco

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(Photograph: Padova, Italy–Padua to English speakers–Julie Cook / June 2007)

I thought this quote by the Italian author appropriate as this picture is taken of the interior of a very old bookshop in Padova, Italy (Padua to English speakers). I wish I had a room in my house that looked like this—there are bountiful mysteries and treasures to be found and unearthed amongst all of these very old and ancient books precariously perched on equally old wooden shelves. Padova is known for its array of antique “paper” shops–be it book, map, or early engravings–there is a treasure trove of shops waiting to be explored.

I love old places like this shop as they have so much to offer the curious—not only from the books themselves and their stories, but from the items perhaps tucked away hiding between the pages of each old tome—leaving me wondering who once may have owned or held one of these particular old books…There is the immediate smell upon entering such a shop–the unmistakeable scents of dust and time emanating from of an old shop housing either old papers, maps, books or art–a bit of must and mildew, the endless battle a book lover/paper lover has with the Elements protecting all from the ravages of time– preserving the ancient for the inquisitive browser such as myself.

New or old, I love a “real” tangible book—none of this e-reader business for me. I love the feel of the binding–perhaps soft leathers, and often the brittle pages of yellowed paper, the smells– often musty, the visual, as well as tactile, relationship a reader develops with a book in hand, turing each page either carefully as not to tear the fragile sheet, or as in quickly, as not being able to wait to read what comes next….it’s as if you are sitting with a dear old friend of whom there is familiarity, ease and comfort.

It’s predicted to pour down from the heavens all weekend–torrential rain—this will be a wonderful opportunity to park myself on the couch complete with a cup of hot tea, and one of the myriad of books waiting for me to pick them up, introduce myself and develop a deep kindred connection—oh for the stories I will read and the places I will be transported to–all from a single book. Happy reading this rainy weekend.