Happy Fathers’ Day to All of us Lucky Genealogy and Family History Aficionados
Fathers’ Day! While I realize this is a day celebrated across the country and by all sorts of great folks, I have to say I believe few folks appreciate Fathers’ Day more than those of us who are family history and genealogy aficionados.
After all, who ‘knows’ more fathers than the average genealogy fan?
If we are fortunate, we know our dad and our granddads. Then the genealogy explosion takes place! We need only glance at our family tree and see the myriad of fathers that populate its branches.
In just a moment’s time, we can see all the fathers-in-law, siblings, uncles, cousins, nephews, and grandfathers who fill, or have filled, the role of father. Then we get to go back in time to greats, greats x2, then farther and farther back in time. Plus if we are truly lucky and ‘on our game’ as genealogists, each of these are far more than just a name on a page of paper.
To us they are real people.
We know their names, their ‘data’, and best of all we know their stories. We might have a photo, an image from an old book. We have done our best to piece together not only the basics, but we have gone deeper and tried to learn about their lives. We have searched for marriages, children, property, occupations, and all the tidbits we can find to help us get to know them and what their lives. We read the history books and newspapers from the times in which they lived. We study their home countries and the culture, mores, traditions, foods, and the music of those lands.
Without even looking at your family tree, I bet you can name the eldest father in your family tree, maybe quote his dates, home village, wife, and a child or two.
Certainly fathers play a significant role in our lives. After all, in one form or another they were half of the equation for why each of us is here. They may not have been a role model, may not have been present in our lives, and could have been like Dagwood Bumstead, Homer Simpson, Steve Douglas, Jim Anderson, or Archie Bunker.
Our fathers were constantly teaching us by their words, actions, successes, shortcomings, achievements, and failures. I can’t tell you how many times I heard ‘Now listen here, young man!’ come out of my dad’s mouth. Each time it did there was a lesson attached. I’ll admit not all of them ‘took’, but they were there if I would have only been listening better.
I was blessed to learn many lessons about life from my dad. They covered the terrain of life: business, marriage, academics, family life, equality, compassion, the stock market, and more. Many were general lessons such as his belief in the need to never, ever burn a bridge, surround yourself with the smartest, most capable staff you can and then get out of their ways and let them do their job, it only takes a nanosecond to ruin your reputation, and never believe your own PR.
The most important lessons for me, though, were those that I learned as a result of the decades of his alcoholism and the dysfunction it caused in our family and in my ability to forge healthy relationships, communicate properly, etc. On a happier note there were then the lessons I learned during family treatment sessions, Al-Anon, and then my father’s subsequent years of sobriety.
Of course, several more of his lessons were quite specific and I have to say just as valuable in their own ways. Lessons such as how to pack a car for a family vacation, how to never allow your young children and their friends to eat Dairy Queens in the family car, how to pass the time by singing ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’ during long family car-vacation trips, how to solder, how to build and repair things, how not to kill yourself while working with electricity, that SPAM and a can of cold, Vegetarian Vegetable soup makes a darn good Saturday lunch that you can eat right over the kitchen sink, and how to use a dime in place of a burned out fuse.
I also was blessed to learn many valuable lessons from my father-in-law who was more like ‘Dad #2’ than an in-law. He taught me about being an entrepreneur, the importance of family, the beauty of being Italian, how to build a really good fire, how to train and treat your hunting Labrador retrievers really, really well, and more.
There have also been lessons that I have picked up from several uncles, which include such crucial ones as you don’t have to eat all your vegetables after your kids go off to college, how to chug a beer, how to blow smoke rings, and that uncles often know the best stories and jokes in the family.
Lessons have been learned from all sorts of other family fathers too. It seems as I get to know each father in our family tree they have something they can teach me from their lives. It is really quite marvelous when I think about it.
HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY!
Enjoy your Fathers’ Day and be sure to thank and give a tip o’ the hat to all those fathers and grandfathers in your family tree today and every day.