There comes a time in every boy’s life that as his shadow becomes as tall as his father’s, there’s always that need to prove himself. As days go by, there’s that urge for the son to be better than the father. I don’t know what drives that need – ego, manhood, or perhaps insecurities, but I wasn’t immune from it.
Yesterday, when my father turned 56, I gave myself time to think about my relationship with my Dad. The more I tried to stay away from the path he forged to earn a living for us, the more I found myself closer to it as I make a living for my own. I’m pretty much like my own father now: the same rank in the corporate world, the same responsibilities, the same lines of thought. The more I tried to be less like him, the more I became like him.
I stopped counting how many times I disappointed my Dad in my quest to be different from him. Then again, in being my own man, I realized that there’s truth in the saying that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. In spite of every stumbling block that happened to be in my way (or I put there for myself) Papa raised me not to be what he wanted to be, but to keep me on the straight and narrow. Some degree of fatherly pride comes with the fact that he raised me in a certain way, therefore I’m going to do things my way, based on the lessons he shared and inculcated in me. Not because I’m a conduit to his dreams, but because I made his dreams my own.
Dad grew up in more adverse situations than I did, or could ever imagine; he did quite a good job shielding and protecting me from the challenges he had in his own childhood. I faced very different challenges from what he did, but he always made it a point to make the lessons stick. I never starved, but the lesson stuck in not stealing. I never had to do backbreaking labor, but the lesson stuck in having pride and honor. I was never called out one too many humiliating situations, but the lesson stuck in manning up.
Granted there were a lot of lessons that I either ignored, forgot, or somewhat disparaged, but Dad’s always there to hear me out, to challenge me, or just be that living inspiration to what I want to be when I grow older and have kids of my own. There will always be that straitened history between me and my father: the things we disagree with, the issues we fight about, the wounds that will take a few more years or so to heal. But for all of that, I know he’ll be there. I know he’ll stick with me through good times and bad times, watching out for me, calling me out on my mistakes, and congratulating me on my successes.
Age, illness, and whatever spats we had over the years have caught up with my dad, but I’m quite sure that one day, things will fall into place. The road I walk with my Dad isn’t a smooth one, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. These days, I don’t mind being under his shadow, or treading his own well-worn path. It’s always good to make your own footsteps alongside those of the Greatest Dad in the World.