It’s Father’s Day and I wanted to do something a little different than our usual talk here at WTP on pop culture and cult subjects. I want to take the time to do something more personal and tell you a little about one of 2 amazing parents I have, my dad.
I’m not going to try and describe him to you so much as just tell a few stories, since that’s probably the best way to tell you who he is.
He can be funny, sometimes on purpose, and often not. I remember him once telling everyone he was having trouble falling asleep. My sister suggested he take some valium to help him sleep heavier. He responded by asking sincerely “But won’t that hurt my neck?”
He’s responsible for my most embarrassing moment, though I just think it’s funny now. When I was 15 I was extremely self conscious and quiet on the school bus. I was also embarrassed to be bringing a bag lunch instead of buying lunch like most kids. So one day I thought it would be better to starve than suffer the embarrassment of bringing the bag lunch my dad kindly had made me onto the bus. I purposely waited till I was late for the bus and had an excuse to run out the door in order to catch it before it left while “forgetting” my lunch. Of course as I got in viewing distance of the bus I slowed down, I didn’t want anyone to think I was anxious to go to school, so I walked when they could see me. As I settled into my 3rd row seat I saw someone actually running to catch the bus. “What a dork” I thought to myself. Of course this was my dad.
He came bounding onto the bus as I sank as low as I could in my seat horrified from what he was doing. The bus had gone silent, as everyone, driver included, was staring at this strange man, who couldn’t see me despite my being only a few feet away.
So he yelled out my name. Not the name everyone knew me as, though he was aware that I went by Mo, but my full Danish name “Morten, Morten!” he yelled out. There was no way I was going to respond, I was just hoping he’d go away and no one would figure out he was my father, but he was persistent, now holding the bag lunch up high by his head like I had no idea why he was there and yelled my name again. When that didn’t work he yelled out my name once more while giving the bag a little shake, like the problem was I still hadn’t noticed it was why he was there.
Finally I could take no more as he was never going to leave, so I stood up and snatched the bag out of his hand, I was close enough to this torture to do this the whole time he was looking for me. I looked at him red faced with a look of murderous intent and completely oblivious he just looked at me and said “Oh, there you are, have a good day” and bounded back off the bus
When I got home I told my mother what he did. She is wonderful, and she got it. When he got home she and I sat down, and tried to explain to him how embarrassing that was. It wasn’t that I didn’t love them, but as a 15 year old boy you don’t even want people to think you have parents, it’s better for people think you crawled out of the sea or something. After an hour of trying to get through to him he said he understood. It wasn’t easy, after all if he forgot his lunch and someone brought it to him he’d be eternally grateful, the man wouldn’t see any reason to go hungry. Well 2 days later I legitimately did miss my bus. As he dropped me off at school I got out and started heading towards the other kids when he honked his horn and everyone turned to look at him. He gave me 2 big thumbs up and a smile then waved and drove off. I thought I was going to die.
Another good story is when we were teenagers and Brett was over for supper and we had a steak dinner. In Denmark the tradition is to say thank you for dinner by saying “Tak For Middag.” It can be kind of hard to wrap your tongue around. Well after supper everyone said it and turned to Brett to see if he would give it a try. Brett looked at us silently for a moment then said “uh yeah, uh, tough meat” Now it was a different kind of silence, as I knew Brett was joking but my mom looked horrified. Finally my dad started laughing and everyone broke up. All was good.
About 2 years later my parents had some friends over upstairs and Brett and I were working on a book report downstairs. Suddenly I heard some laughing coming down the stairs as my dad rounded the corner, red faced and teary eyed, laughing with what could only be described as a high pitched hyena laugh. In between breathes and giggles my dad got out that question “what was that funny thing again?” We had no idea what he was talking about and told him that so he said “You know, that funny thing Brett said at supper?” Brett looked at him casually, shrugged his shoulders and said “Tough Meat?”
My dad broke out in the high pitched hyena laugh again, pointed at Brett and said “That’s it! That’s it!” then ran up the stairs. A few seconds later I heard the room upstairs break up in laughter with my parents and their Danish friends. Brett and I just sat there dumbfounded, he started a story, was laughing so hard when he came downstairs we were worried for his health, and couldn’t even remember what the punch line was.
All this is my dad, and I love those stories, but the single most influential thing he ever did for me was a quick thing I don’t even think he remembers. He worked construction. One day after school I came out to help him with the house he was renovating. While he was inside my job was to load the pick up work truck he had with all the garbage, lumber, etc that had built up.
I was really giving it, throwing everything on as fast as I could so I could go home. Well I wasn’t looking at the truck and threw one board too hard and too far and smashed the back window of his truck. I stood there for a few minutes, not sure what to do. Finally I walked inside and told him “I’m sorry. I was throwing everything on the truck and accidentally something I threw hit the back window and broke it. I’m really sorry. I’ll pay for it”
My dad looked at me for a few seconds. I’ll never forget the look on his face at that moment. I was just wishing he’d say something. Finally he looked at me and said “Were you hustling?”
“Yeah dad, I was” I told him. “You were trying hard?” he asked. “Yes” I said “and like I say, I’m sorry, I’ll pay for it” He looked at me a moment longer and said “That’s okay” Then he told me “I’d rather you make the mistake of trying too hard than make the mistake of not trying at all”
That is the single most inspirational thing anyone ever said to me, and it’s always stuck with me.
So as I prepare to leave my place and head over to my parents to watch the Denmark / Germany Euro2012 football match (soccer here in Canada) I just want to take this time to publicly thank my dad, and my beautiful mom, who I will also blog about someday, for all there support and unconditional love over the years. If I could be half the man my dad is for half as long I’d be doing just fine in this world, and I try to be that every day.
Happy Father’s Day Everyone