I know it is still a few weeks away, and the title of this post is borderline inappropriate, but with my brother’s arrest last week, I find myself thinking about legacies. You see, my brother Obie (Ray) is the only brother with whom I grew up. Having said that, I tell you honestly that I love him no matter what he does. Unfortunately, some of the things he does are a bit hard to explain. Let me just say that even if I had a sterling reputation and spotless past, neither of which I do, my brother’s actions would still prevent me from ever becoming President of the United States.
Now once I got onto that line of thought, I started thinking about the damage that my brother’s recent actions were causing his family name. Once I got to that line of thinking, I started thinking about what Dad would say if he were still alive. Sadly, thinking about Dad caused me to forget about Obie Ray’s current legal troubles and got me thinking about the old man and the disappointment I caused him.
Now it is time for me to give you some background. In recent years when I say Dad, I don’t mean the genetic contributor responsible for my receding hairline and low self-esteem. That individual discarded any right to the title as quickly as he discarded my sister and me without as much as a penny of child support. Dad also isn’t the man whose name appears on my birth certificate. While I respect him for who he was in my family’s life, he sadly passed long before my misconception. No, for me, Dad has become the man who came into my life when I was just a few months old. Dad is the man who took me out of the dishtowels my mother used and put the first real diaper on my pasty little butt.
Dad is the man who raised me for 17 years before arrogance and selfish attitudes of others forced him out of the house. Yes, my arrogance and selfishness was chief among those. You see in the 17 years Dad lived with us, he made sure that we always had a roof over our heads and that mom kept the house clean. He made sure that each of us had full bellies every day even if he had to go without more than a few times. Dad is the guy who tried to teach me the value of hard work and the importance of setting goals, to attributes I failed to appreciate until long after Dad left this world.
Dad is ultimately the guy who taught me to treat my children as if they were my children and to treat my stepchildren as if they were my children. Moreover, just before he died Dad taught me that I was his biggest disappointment in life.
You see, I didn’t disappoint him when I got in trouble at school. He saw that as boys being boys. I didn’t disappoint him when I embarrassed him in public by fighting him in a store parking lot and showing him that I was no longer a pushover. He was actually proud that I finally learned to stand up for myself. No, I disappointed Dad when I left school and decided that I was fully capable of being a man without the proper education. This was such a disappointment to Dad because he was certain that of all his children (stepchildren included) I was the one smart enough to succeed in life. He was convinced that I was the one who wouldn’t become just another punk and would actually do something that would bring value not just to his name but mine as well. I still cry sometimes when I think of how wrong he was about me.
It took me a few years after he died to realize how valuable Dad was to me and how big of a void I have in my life without him. It took me that long because in spite of the fact that I have had children and step children, it wasn’t until I started having grandchildren that I started hearing Dad’s words echo from my mouth. Once I realized everything that Dad tried to give me, and how much of it I wasted in my life, I started to try to put my life back together.
It turned out that I was too late for some of it. Although I would kill to have the kind of relationship with my son that a father should, I think my past actions have burned that particular bridge. I try to make up for it with my relationships with my daughters, but let’s face it: I am kind of a jerk. Sometimes I can be overbearing. I do have a great relationship with one of my grandchildren, but I’m convinced she just tolerates me because she thinks I’m crazy.
Aside from my personal life, I have tried professionally to gain some manner of respect. Sadly, in this job market, I’m resigned to trying to gain respect as an author. If you could see my sales reports, you’d see how well that’s not going. Still, I am writing and contributing to entertaining as well as I can. Over all, I would say that given the decades I spend plunging my reputation and family name into the vilest mud I could find, I have been doing quite well at cleaning up my reputation. After all, most of my family has quit calling me the worthless one.
Still, if I could go back and do it all over again, I think I would start by paying closer attention to Dad when I was growing up. I would finish school properly instead of waiting until I’m almost 20 to get my high school diploma and almost 40 before getting my Bachelor’s degree. I would be the kind of father Dad was to me and the kind of man he tried to teach me to be. Most of all, I would do everything I could to bear the last name of the man who was truly my Dad. Most of all, I would make him proud that I was a Cheuvront.
So, Forty-??? years too late, I salute you, Dad. To Obie Columbus Cheuvront (1913-1992) Happy Father’s Day, I do miss you.