Mom’s painting is everything Dad wanted to be and everything Dad wanted for me, crafted by the person we cherished most.
I can’t remember a time it wasn’t known to me that Dad’s grandparents were the rocks in his life. I don’t believe there was a better man in his eyes than his grandfather.
Dad devoted his life to others, joined the rank and file of responsibility with the East Brunswick Police Department and, to paraphrase Elijah Price from one of my favorite films, “he could’ve done of ten thousand things, but in the end, he chose to protect people.” (from “Unbreakable”)
I have no delusions about our imperfections or the relationship I had with my father. His right brain and my left brain too often required Mom to translate—well into my twenties!
I paid strict attention to the man Dad was. He never imposed an expectation on anyone more than to do one’s best. I agonized over wanting, trying and failing to be more like him. It never occurred to me that we had one flaw in common. We both could be too focused on measuring ourselves against those we admired most rather than being the best version of ourselves we could be; which is why what comes next means more to me than he ever knew.
I’ll never forget the day I was fixing his computer, as I often had to do, when he walked in. He’d recently left a lucrative job to pursue his dream of being a golf Pro. It meant big changes—anxiety, fear, resentment and all of the things that accompany taking risks. I was in the middle of taking my own risk, opting to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter until it was no longer an option. He thanked me and told me I inspired him to take his risk. Me? The prodigal son who wanted to be more like his selfless dad who wanted to be more like his inimitable grandfather?! That’s like Superman telling Seinfeld he inspired him to hang up his cape and fulfill his dream of quilting—in a good way. He said he was never happier.
We both learned the hard way that dreams can be nightmares, but they’re worth their weight in what-if’s. He was at my side when few were, once a week for months, when it became clear we were sharing a proverbial cake we could no longer eat. We woke from those nightmares—together.
When Dad became “Grandpa,” he became something far greater than my great grandfather. He became the best him he could be.
I’ll never be Dad. I’m a Jeff. Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
Painting of Great Grandpa Bloss with Jeff by Kathy Hartman
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.Oscar Wilde