Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Loveliest Gift

I was looking through my blog for a recipe and started reading some old posts and came on this one from 2009. Lots of water under the bridge since then, but the post is as true as ever. Tony and I have been married 50 years, and he's still the solid, quiet presence the family rotates around. I've spent time with couples and families who constantly quarrel and bicker, who say unkind things to each other. It's painful for me to even visit in a home like that, and I can only imagine the unhappiness in the hearts of those who live there. 

Ian, Tony and Salvador the cat in 2008
Tony faced serious health challenges from the time our eldest son Ian was a newborn. Because he was often unable to work for extended periods we never had much money when our boys were growing up. He was sometimes the stay-at-home parent while I worked outside the home, but this was in many ways a blessing, as it gave him an extraordinary amount of time to spend with his sons. 

He often expresses amazement at our boys' fearlessness, their ability to turn their hand to almost anything, to repair anything, to build anything, to figure out anything, and he never stops to think that they learned these skills at his side, as he taught them to hold a hammer, use a saw, wire a plug, frame a wall or repair an engine. 

They didn't have designer jeans or sneakers, but they apparently had what they needed to grow into well-rounded, productive adults, which was an incredibly gentle and patient father by their side. We are so proud of our sons, they are everything we ever hoped they would be and more. But they are that in great part because their father poured his whole life into them. 

Zak and Tony 2009
We are not shy about telling them how much they are loved and appreciated and on Father's Day 2009 Zak wrote a lovely note to his Dad which meant more to him than any material gift could have. He wrote in part, "I started thinking about the various gifts that you've given your family over the years and that I've probably never fully thought about or thanked you for.

Growing up, I remember you and Mammy having hard times but never being mean to each other, even when we were broke, sick and deeply stressed out. Despite all the trouble I made and got into, you were never mean to me either - and I know what a terrible handful I must have been. I didn't realize that this was anything out of the ordinary until I started to spend time with other families and understood that the love, gentleness and kindness that you showed each other, Ian and I, and the others in our life was extraordinary. 

As I've grown older and am not so invulnerable, I further understand that you both made many hard choices while dealing with real challenges. These gifts of love, kindness, patience and gentleness are some of the most important things in my life.

Watching (and sometimes helping with) your projects taught me to be inventive, thrifty and determined. I now know that most things can be repurposed, most plans are guidelines rather than rules, and given time and enough 2x4s, I know that most things can be built. I also improved my vocabulary from being near you when the projects were in their more difficult stages. ;-)

I'm grateful for all of these things and much more. I'm so proud to have you as a father and hope one day to do as well with my own children."


[edit] After Ian read this post he wrote,"That was a very nice letter that Zak wrote. People often marvel at my level of resourcefulness and mechanical ability... I usually explain it by saying my parents weren't afraid of doing anything, least of all learning or trying something new." 



oklhdan said...

What a lovely post. You and your husband gave your boys the best of yourselves. How wonderful they love and appreciate you both for it.

Deb said...

Thank you Dani,

We're lucky to have wonderful sons and we had some great adventures together as they were growing up!