Lunch with dad

My brother wrote a blog recently that inspired me to think about an experience I remember with my dad. It was the summer when we were moving to Maryland. My dad needed help getting boxes from his office to the car. So he enlisted the aid of my friend Chad and myself. Chad was a great guy who was unusually strong for his age and I was a wimpy little runt. So really, dad was enlisting the help of Chad. Nevertheless, as we headed up to his office we acted very official and asked important mover questions like, “when is lunch?”, “how many boxes?”, and “is there a cart we can use?” My dad was very patient and answered every question with the utmost professionalism, playing along with our need to feel as though we had been hired. I think we may have carried about ten boxes total from 9am to noon, when dad took us to a Chinese place around the corner.
Dad loved food. All food. Not so much for the food itself, but for the experience of eating it. (Peanut butter covered Twinkies were one of his favorites. Sometimes, mom would leave the house on dad’s day off and he would tell me to watch the window. When she was out of sight I would hear, “is she gone?” Then enthusiastically I would run to the kitchen and he would hand me a peanut butter covered Twinkie! It was great!) When we arrived at the small Chinese hole in the wall, Chad looked at me and said, “you sure this is the place?” I said, “just come on, it’s gonna be good.” (it was probably the worst Chinese food I have ever eaten.) We sat down and saw a roach scamper across the floor. Dad said cheerfully, “this is a great place to eat!” We sat and ate and talked about life for a good hour and a half before dad stood up and said, “alright, back to work.” It has been years since I sat in that pitiful little Chinese restaurant and I am only learning what it meant to dad in the last few years.
Clearly, dad, a 6 foot 1 huge man with two bigger stronger older sons, did not need the help of his 14 year old, 125 pound, soccer playing boy and his best friend to help him move boxes. No, like the food, dad was in it for the experience. He would do things with us just for the experience of it being with us. He taught me to use an axe under the guise of helping him with the sticks in the yard. He taught me how to draw under the guise of asking me to draw him things in the house. He taught me to swim under the guise of racing! It was always about the joy of experience. So now, I try the same with my daughter. She’s only 20 months old, but I look forward to every experience I can with her.

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