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Reflections on my father | June 19, 2011

My father and I didn’t always have the best relationship; he didn’t “get” me, really. I was more of a dreamer and the things that interested me rarely coincided with what interested him. I had much more in common with my mother, and growing up, a lot of the time I felt jealous that my brother (who was into more sports than I) had more in common. (I even tried playing little league baseball, though with poor depth perception from being legally blind in one eye, it was not something I was remotely good at.)

Compounding things, my father was very old school and wasn’t comfortable speaking his emotions. But my brother and I learned that if we said, “I love you, Dad,” he would always reply, “I love you, too.”

I did learn a whole lot from my father. I learned that you didn’t show truth by speaking words, but by doing things. If you loved someone and wanted to show it, you SHOWED it. (That’s not to say I’m not good at expressing my emotions verbally, I am.) I’m going to illustrate the giving side of my father, but I’ll save that for the latter part of this blog post.

Other things he taught me: work hard. He always did, even after “retirement”. There were times he had multiple jobs so that my mother, brother and I could have a roof over our heads, good food to eat, clothes to wear, and stuff to keep us entertained. I have a ridiculously strong work ethic (one that gets taken advantage of at every job I’ve ever had, either by the employer or by lazy coworkers who realise that if someone needs to be done and they don’t do it, Terry’ll end up doing it.) I learned you stand up for what’s right. My father didn’t always have a lot to say, and he didn’t always get fired up about something, but if someone was being mistreated or someone was doing wrong, he’d let them know. (And you didn’t want my father mad at you – every kid in the neighborhood was terrified of my father, and he didn’t even have to get mad or yell – he had a stare that would turn your knees to jelly.)

July 1986, my father took the family (me, mom, my brother and himself) to Atlanta, GA for a long weekend. He squirreled away the money, made sure that there were plenty of things for the three of them to do in the weekend (they took in a live Atlanta Braves ball game, went to some museums, not sure what else), all because he wanted to make sure I could attend the Atlanta Fantasy Fair.

Now, my father got me into two of my biggest loves – comic books and pro wrestling. He didn’t keep up with either, but heard plenty of updates through me. (Tangent: in the 90s, when they “killed off” Superman? I got a phone call from a very irate man who read in that morning’s paper that they were killing off Superman. I had to explain to him that in all certainty, it was just a temporary story-line, that he would be back. He was PISSED. I’m glad he passed away before they did the Captain America died story-line – Cap was his fave of all time.) And, apparently, I’d mentioned, in passing, that the AFF was going on this year and had some guests I wanted to see, or something… because he made it happen.

If it wasn’t for my Dad, I wouldn’t have met Stan Lee in the bathroom (we had a conversation at the urinals), watched the First Doctor (William Hartnell) for the very first time in a screening room, watched the most amazing costume contest in a packed auditorium, shouted “DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24TH-AND-A-HALF CENTURY” along with hundreds of others in said packed auditorium, while watching said cartoon, and so much more. My first con, one of the biggest and best of my geek experiences in my life, all thanks to my father, who wanted me to have that.

My father passed away, suddenly, of a heart attack, March 20th, 2003. I was working at Regal Mattress in Longwood, and was called up to the front office, to find my brother (who was in Atlanta for training for work – he’s a US Marshal – and when Mom called him that morning, he flew down) standing there. I still remember this day, we stepped outside, and he said to me, “Dad had a heart attack and passed away.”

I laughed, because I was sure he meant Mom. Mom had a heart attack on Election Day in 2000 and died but was resuscitated. But it wasn’t Mom (she passed last year, four days before Xmas.)

I am fortunate that, as an adult, my father and I grew closer. We shared a love for television shows and movies about aliens, super-powered folk, fantasy, westerns, science fiction, whatever. After a big movie would come out, I could always expect a phone call asking how it was – I was his gauge for these things.

On this Father’s Day I do have that those of you who have fathers are able to spend some time (in person or on the phone) with them and let them know how much you appreciate them. You are so very lucky.

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