About 1 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, I walked by my son’s bedroom and instead of being annoyed by the fact that he was still asleep, (which did not surprise me since when I woke up at 5:30 am he was still milling about the house) I was moved nearly to tears. I was awe-struck by his goodness, intelligence-both emotional and intellectual, his humor and his heart. As I stood and looked at my sleeping boy, I truly and deeply felt the special love that only a father can have for a son. It was nice to be reminded of this feeling.
Through the chaos of life, things get overlooked. For a time, since my son is pretty low-maintenance (certainly compared to my daughter), I have neglected to do the little special things that let him know how valuable he is to me. Simple gestures of my love and recognition of him as a great kid didn’t happen. Well, after seeing my sleeping boy and feeling the feels, I committed to acknowledging him in my standard, humble way: food.
Later that night, I asked him if he would like some waffles and bacon for breakfast the next day. He said sure. So, the next morning, I made him waffles and bacon. As I fried the bacon, I thought about my own dad and the legacy he left me. I also thought about the legacy I have left for my son and I embarked on a complicated conversation with myself.
My dad had two primary forms of expression: silence and anger. He also had great humor and an elephantine loyalty to his family. I examined my own default behaviors and found much of my dad. I was proud of some and not proud of others. The “sins of the father” truly do pass down generationally. There is no shame or blame in this, only the clear understanding that we do the best we can with what we have and we can only know what we know. And though the cost of these sins can be expensive, they don’t define a heart.
Gratefully, I am not too late to mitigate some of the impacts of my haste and sharpness and silence. My son is not built yet. He’s getting close, but I trust I still have some influence and I also trust that plenty of my good bits have made it through the sieve. Watching him walk the world with grace and kindness and strength, I am proud in the knowledge that I contributed to this as well. Sins be damned.
In an uncertain world, a few precious people live as anchors keeping us safely moored as the tempest swirls around us. Our kids and parents are these anchors. They remind us that we can love and are loved and that we have generosity and a selfless devotion to ensuring their peace and happiness. And though the tornados swirl and the thunder claps, making us afraid of both the dark and the light, we can sometimes find our own peace and happiness by delivering a plate of waffles and bacon to a late-sleeping teenage boy. Bacon is always a pretty good gift…
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the new Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave 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, Dave needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.