When I was growing up, my father brought in the bacon. All of it. He went to work every morning at 6:00 and came home every evening around 5:30. When he walked in the door after a hard day at the office, my mom handed him a cocktail, the newspaper and a slice of rye bread. (Don't ask. I'm not sure why he wanted this, unless of course, it was a symbol of being the bread winner.)
For the next half hour he would sit and relax while my mom finished making dinner and my sister and I set the table.
I guess you'd say he was a lot like Ward Cleaver or Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best. And back then I believed he did know best. After all, he was the man of the house. My father.
This routine lasted for many, many years until my sister and I started high school, at which time our mom wanted to go to work. Not so much for the money. But how many times can you change the bedding, scrub the toilets, rearrange the pantry, or play golf in one week?
But Mom going to work wasn't the only change that took place in our household. Now my father's daughters were dating. Goodbye Ward Cleaver. Hello Archie Bunker.
My father wasn't exactly like good old Archie, but when it came to the boys his girls were bringing home, he could be quite judgmental. After all, he had once been a teenage boy and he knew how boys could act toward girls. When their daughters start dating it must be a scary time for fathers. And of course, as a teenage girl, I knew my father did NOT know what was best for me!
Some of my boy friends were definitely "undesirables" in my father's eyes. In looking back, I can't say as I blame him. With only two daughters, he had five son-in-laws. So, I guess he had reason to be concerned.
Let's not forget the time he had to bail me out of jail. (Nothing serious.) The many months when he wondered when I was going to get on with my life after I came back from Europe. And what the heck was I doing with my college degree. Of course, I was wondering that same thing myself.
So, eventually I went to find who I was in life, with the security of always knowing where to find my father. In his workshop. Throughout the years he was always building something. From gigantic wall units, to roll-top desks to rocking horses.
In his later years, he turned to small wooden objects such as stamp holders, bagel tongs and boxes with secret openings. Sometimes he actually made me guess what it is that he had made.
But I never had to guess how much he loved me. And of all the things he's built, the best was the strong foundation upon which my sister and I lived for many years. Until the time came for us to build lives of our own.
This is my third Father's Day without him.
Yet, in my world, his presence is bigger than ever.
And I've since learned one truth: My father really did know best.