Misunderstanding Our Dads

My actual Dad

"It is easier to be a dad than to become one."

Or something like that was a quote I ran across on Twitter yesterday.

It occurred to me, as it has many times in the past, that my dad became "dad-like" only as he neared retirement. 

Growing up, I actually did not know him very well at all. Most of the time he was out, working or traveling for work. Or - well where was he? I can't say that I know.

My dad dresses funny to us American folks. He wears a business suit, minus the tie on Sundays, at all times. 

He talks in a very formal way, like someone who isn't comfortable with English. (He's not - my dad was raised with Yiddish.)

Who is my dad? My favorite memory is of going with him to the Hess truck stop on our trips to visit his parents in Canada. He delighted in the model trucks they had for sale, all lit up. He bought me one.

My dad has a mug collection.

I know my dad through his things. I know he likes to take photos, pretty badly actually much like myself. (Instagram is our mutual friend.) He takes a ton of them.

When you get to know my dad you realize he's basically a good guy with a big heart. He is from Eastern Europe - Cluj, specifically - a town on the boundary between Hungary and Romania (which we pronounce "Rumania.")

Yesterday I met a lady from there, out of the blue. She spoke, acted, dressed exactly like him! It was almost unbelievable. 

This woman was effusively warmhearted and friendly to me, a complete stranger - to an American it comes across as a little fake. But I think she meant it.

She was dressed very simply, but expensively, a bit overly formal for the occasion. No prints, no colors, no fussy accessories. She could have been in New York, or DC, or Europe, or anywhere.

The warm, generous, outgoing talk versus the stark, subtle dress.

Just like my dad! I wanted to hug her.

Sometimes I talk to my dad. He seems to listen a lot more than he used to. He has said that he is sorry he wasn't as good a dad when I was growing up. He is ever the workaholic - a gene he passed on to me - I doubt that he could ever be the type to sit home and play cards. 

Though he does brag about making a mean omelet. And lately also about being "Mr. Mom" when my mom had a bit of a virus.

Point being, we misunderstand our dads. As an adult, I think that has a lot to do with how much effort we put into understanding them. 

Fatherhood, just like motherhood, doesn't happen biologically at all. It happens because two people try to connect across about a thousand bridges that could lead to permanent misunderstanding.

I'm glad to have met that random lady, because she reminded me of how important my dad is in my life. And how much I value his personality, even though most of it still remains a mystery to me.

A belated Happy Father's Day everyone...happy "back-to-work Monday," and good luck!

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