As Father’s Day approaches, I know there are elements of my dad in me, in both my actions and sometimes in my thoughts. I may not recognize it, but people who know both of us would. No surprise, probably. By spending over twenty years with your parents, something is bound to rub off!
As obvious as this may seem, it just hit me now, and the reason it has is by working with my brother’s son as he is being thrown into a new role in helping his dad. There are two angles to this story. The first is what I have learned about my brother, and the impact our dad has had on him. The second is what I see of my brother in his son. There is a chain of relationships in more ways than chemistry.
Life has a way of opening windows into people’s hearts and souls. As my brother has been battered by an explosion and recovering slowly, you get glimpses into his life that you normally would not. You see the hard-working determination to be a strong individual again. You see the awkwardness of having to be 100% dependent on others. You see the simplicity of his life, in which his work was not a living, but a way of life.
Our dad was no different. Asking for help was never really the first option; it was usually the last. Farmers have an independent streak with a realization of the importance of a community. In these rural areas, the community comes together during challenging times, and it is the strength of the individuals which deliver the aid, the connection, and the love when needed.
Our dad also led a simple life in which his job was his hobby, in many ways. It provided for our family, but it wasn’t a role which led to financial riches. It did lead to other forms of wealth which were more centered in his soul and in his family than in other areas.
Fast forward to today in which my brother’s son is front-and-center in his new role of caring for his dad. It is not all about the physical and emotional care; there is a financial and business aspect which gets mixed in as well. In many ways, the roles have switched – his son is now his dad’s caretaker and manager.
With my brother’s son, I see the strong individualism, the independence. I see the constant common sense approach to solving problems. I see the “can’t-change-what-as-happened” mindset which leads to a resilient sense of “let’s-deal-with-it-now.” I also see his reserved nature and last resort approach to asking for help.
There is a values chain which links us to our parents, and we then pass on to our sons and daughters. As fathers, we need to try to exhibit our best traits from our heritage. As sons and daughters, we need to recognize the good traits from the bad ones and stop carrying forward the latter.
It is a valuable chain. Our job is to add to the good – improved links – and keep advancing forward with new, authentic values and traits.
Isn’t that what it is all about?
We carry forward the best; we add new, mostly good qualities; and we eliminate the worst.