Monday, November 3, 2014

Confessions of an Aging Father Part I: Fatherly Flashbacks

I have been experiencing flashbacks the last several days.   And believe it or not I really did not do any LSD back in the ‘70’s.   I actually did a little research.  Apparently having LSD flashbacks decades after ingestion is indeed urban legend.  As a matter of fact, my flashbacks have been very specific. They seem to be characteristic of an aging father...

The first one occurred Saturday evening.  We hosted some friends overnight that have three small pre-adolescent children.  It was so nice to have kids in the house again.  Their questions, their concerns, and their innocence….It did my soul good.

As I was making hamburger patties to put on the grill, two of the kids wanted to help me.  I said:  “Of course! Jump in there!”  And I patiently showed them how to make a good hamburger patty that is not apt to fall apart.  And then one of them wanted to place his handiwork on the grill. Not a problem. I patiently supervised that process too.  And that’s when the flashbacks started...

I don’t recall being as patient with my children.  I don’t even remember being as receptive to their assistance. I think I was more inclined to say: “I need to do it!”  “We are late for dinner.” “I don’t have time for you to help.”  And then there was the proverbial phrase…maybe next time. Maybe next time you can help me.  I would be more inclined to tell my own children that they would burn their hand on the grill, so I had better place the patties on there.  It was sort of like Ralphie in the movie  A Christmas Story being told that he would shoot his eye out with the Red Rider BB gun he so wanted for Christmas.

The second flashback came this afternoon. I was loading one tiny sack of groceries in the trunk as I observed a lady with a very small little boy perched in her shopping cart loading an abundance of groceries in her vehicle. The wind was blowing and she was having a hard time keeping the cart from escaping her grasp as she unloaded.  I wanted to help her, but I thought she would think I was a creepy old man.  My week-old beard is not doing much to enhance my appearance these days. It actually adds to the creepy factor.  When I looked at that little boy, I had a flashback.  I was loading a 1986 Suburban with another little boy in the cart.   There was a part of me that wanted to get up in that ladies face and say: “Enjoy that little guy!  You will blink and he will be 25 years old.”  But I resisted. I knew that would confirm in her mind that I was indeed creepy and perhaps a tad unstable too.

 I am learning that flashbacks come with territory of being an aging father.  And I am learning that I am more patient today than I was when my boys were small.  I am wondering why God allows us to have children when we are so young and immature.  Do I apologize to my children for being uptight and impatient as they grew up?  It would not be a bad idea… I think mainly I will just try to extend my new found patience to them where they are in life today.  I never experienced that.  My father died when I was 15.  Perhaps there are benefits to being an aging father.  They will be home for the holidays. I hope we can make some hamburger patties together.  And maybe we can go the store together.  In the meantime, I anticipate more flashbacks.  It is just part of being an aging father.  And I certainly desire such flashbacks to be redemptive as I yearn to be a better father. 

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