Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I have a TON of men I would like to recognize on this Father's Day but will only have time/room to mention a few of them here.

My own father: Charles Leon Bishop. My mother was the only one I ever heard call him by his name. I have no memories of us living together really; he was always the infrequent visitor to my home who would sometimes take us home with him for a weekend. "Chick", "Chicken", "Sonny", "Sonny boy"--these were the names he was called by family and friends. My father seemed to struggle with the role often not understanding how to deal with his three offspring. Despite the fact that we spent very little time with him, it never occurred to me that the man might not love me. As an adult, I might would think that by his behavior, but as a child, I think I implicitly understood that being something and being good at something were two entirely different things. My father was no good at being one, especially when I was young, but he loved me and I loved him anyway. He began spending a great deal of time with me after I graduated from high school with the awkwardness of my little girl-ness behind us. Then he died an untimely death just before my 20th birthday. He perished in a fire in his home on Christmas Eve. My hard-drinking, well-loved, laughing, teasing, flirting father has been gone from my life for 30 years now and I still miss him. He was quite a guy.

My grandfather: Myrle Laverne Clark. With the decidedly female first and second names, my grandfather was called "M.L." in public, but growing up, I most often heard him addressed in respectful tones as "Mr. Clark". This man was my idol and the man I most often thought of in the role of a wonderful father figure. I hesitate to use the word "perfect" to describe any person or situation as I believe that role was performed only once, a long time ago, and will never happen again. However, especially in my younger years, my grandfather was about as perfect a man in my eyes as they come. He loved me dearly and showed it. He was fun-loving, but hard-working. He was the reason I still refer to the green bars of Lava soap as "dragline soap" (he was the operator of a large piece of equipment known as a dragline). Grandpa taught me about spiders, alligators, and how not to fear things that go bump in the night. He taught us about working hard and earning your pay, about changing tires and changing oil, about honoring God, and about being humble. I adored that man and was glad to have him in my life for so many years. I miss him terribly.

My husband: Leonardo Enrique Amaya. He's only been "Leo" for the past 12 or so years. He was "Leonard" to me, my children, and our friends before that. Leo and I have been married only 20 years now, but it's been quite wonderful. Leo came to the family with two girls of his own and I brought the same into the union. Leo has always been wonderful with all four, always teasing, always saying out loud the things that most people don't or won't, always asking the most embarrassing questions, and always loving unconditionally. Although he seemed to struggle with the role of father/step-father when the girls were young, he also struggled with other things. After our move to Port Lavaca, however, he became more of a man to be admired in so many areas of his life (I have no explanation for this, by the way) including his father roles. Today, he adores his children and grandchildren more than almost anything in the world and would give his life for any of them. He is becoming the man in their lives that my grandfather was in mine and I could not be prouder to have him as my husband. Today I am missing him IMMENSELY!

My brother-in-law: Jessie Baldock. Jessie lives next door to our home in Port Lavaca with his wife, Leo's sister, Grace. It is not Jessie's role as father to his two sons that I admire so much (I see them only very rarely) but rather his role as father-figure to everyone he encounters that is so admirable. To Leo, Jessie is the brother he never had and sometimes even the father that he misses so much. To the neighborhood Jessie is the guy that will help out with anything at any time and the one to ask an opinion from if advice is required. To our girls and grandkids he is the "Uncle Jessie" that is well-loved and the supplier of all kid-worthy surprises--glow sticks, fishing outings, stairs for getting out of the water easily, homemade cakes (these are only the most recent ones!). To me Jessie is the man to whom I can share any secret concern, who will give advice when asked but hold back his opinion when that is the right tack, who always makes time for me when I need it and leaves me to fend for myself when that is what I want, and he is and has been the "other man" in many parts of my life, a relationship fully approved and sanctioned by Leo. Jessie is the man most loved and admired by Leo and I and we consider ourselves lucky to have him.

There are so many others out there, friends, family, acquaintances, and even some that I interact with but have never met. To all of you who have played a role in my life, large or small, today I wish a very Happy Father's Day!

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