Thursday, February 2, 2012

7 days of Bob: A patient life (among women)

Yesterday, Kristin noted (accurately) that our dad is among the most patient of men. He grew up with a strong-willed mother and 2 sisters. He married Mom, herself strong-willed and one of 3 sisters; together they went on to have 3 daughters and, for a time, a female dog for a pet.

Coincidence? I’d like to think not although, only having met my father when in his mid-30s, I can’t firsthand analyze the chicken-egg order of said patience. The women I’m closest to who have known him the longest, Aunt Kathi and my mother, would probably testify to a history of acquiescing to female opinions around him. Or at the very least, a mature and healthy ability to listen our rationales for all things ... and realize that to fight them would be more pain than reward.

Noble on many levels. This has led to a level of patience bordering on conflict avoidance ... which in and of itself has been an occasional source of conflict over the years. After years of depending on Dad to be the guy who will go along with anything I (or my Mom or sisters or aunts) decide, I don’t really have the right to be frustrated when it takes what feels like eons for him to make a decision, eh?  Or do any of us?  We’ve helped shape his patience and need to have patience ourselves with what we hath helped wrought.

Dad smiles a genuine smile when he does, and he can look as perplexed or as pissed as anyone if provoked.  But this picture one I think best represents his typical countenance: bemused observance and reflection. (Or, were this a Sunday afternoon and there were a television to the far right of this picture and a PGA tournament in mid-stride .... zoned concentration.) 

We were gathered as a family, pre-grandchildren, for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary in August 2005, on the North Shore of Minnesota. We chose the place not only because of the lake’s woodland beauty in the heart of summer, but because of the particular place it holds in my parents’ hearts: where they lived and worked for the 9-year period during which the 3 of us were born, when he was still in his first career as a high school English teacher, when they were a young couple learning to be parents of girls and making lifelong friends in the same position.

I imagine him here, the lake in his glasses, thinking of how much it means to him when he is with his daughters all together. Thinking of the times 30 years hence, in this place, when he used to have more influence over our decisions. In this late afternoon on a Saturday, a few years before retirement from owning the newspaper, how nice it is to have rare downtime from the business. How strange it feels to be the subject of a photograph when, so often in life, he was the photographer. Glad he could lounge in an Adirondack chair, unburdened for a few moments at least, waiting for whatever his women might decide to do next.

No comments: