by Dave Markwell

“I have seen the fish fart underwater before…and watched the bubbles rise…” I have no idea what this means. My dad uttered this phrase countless times as I was growing up and I never knew what it meant. He would look very profound and philosophical when he said it, so I took it to be a collection of weighty words too heavy for my young mind.

Now that I am older, I still have no clue what in the hell it means. Nonetheless, my ignorance did not prevent me from positioning a wise and thoughtful look upon my own face as I dazzled my son with these same words.

My thirteen year old son, Aden, furrowed his brow, shook his head and walked away. He gave me a rather confused, if not outright contemptuous, look as he left me standing in the dining room being awesome. His “look” is a pretty common one and I fear that it is no longer “a” look, but is becoming just how he looks. But, maybe he just looks that way around me.

While I remain puzzled about the meaning behind my dad’s words, what is more mysterious to me is why I chose to repeat them. I never understood them and still don’t. As I ponder this riddle, my only explanation is that “I had to.” My dad made me. He framed me and shaped me and I am a product of his “tutelage.”

Often this does not make me too happy. My dad was a flawed man. He was stubborn and impatient and sometimes unhappy. He was hasty and intolerant. I remember these things when I find myself being stubborn and impatient and many more things that I am not proud of. It is easy for me to find things to feel bad about and we all have plenty. However, as we often get our parents’ less desirable traits. We also get the good ones.

My dad was funny in his own, sometimes unfunny, way. My friends and family will certainly attest that my funniness is usually not really that funny. This doesn’t matter to me. Like my dad, I am often my own best audience. I can amuse myself pretty easily. Also, like my dad, I enjoy kids and play and “Smokey and the Bandit.” I like a good steak and a beer with my buddies. I like cutting and splitting wood and fishing. My dad gave me these things, too.

My dad gave me many things and now I am giving my son many things. He will curse me for some and bless me for others and I have no control over what he takes and/or values. He is his own man and he’s a good one.

But, in the years ahead (many years ahead, I hope), when I overhear him repeat my dad’s words to his son and looks at me in disbelief that these words actually fell out of his mouth, I will simply shrug my shoulders and give him a compassionate smile that says, “I know, buddy, I couldn’t help it either…blame Grandpa…”

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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