Every man has at least one Father. He might not be a biological progenitor. He might not have been around for very long. We might hate or fear him, or think he is an idiot, but his role is indelible. All men remember that one older guy that took time to teach and share. The guy that was patient enough, funny enough, and cool enough to trust. The guy who you absorbed into your ego. The one trait that makes you brilliant that you got from him. His laugh. His addiction. His spirit.
Some cultures liken male psychogenisis to a wound that leaves a scar. The scar brings us power to face the un-faceable because at some point we have been tested and we had proven not only to ourselves but to everyone that we can endure pain, and perservere. In a certain tribal culture far away from here, when a boy gets to be 12 or 13, the older men sneak into his Mother’s house and kidnap the boy, and take him away to their camp, and they teach him “You were a boy, but now you are old enough to be with us on the two week long journey to hunt.” Other cultures consecrate a boy’s journey into manhood with work, allowing the boy to make his own name among the other men, and gain respect.
The one guy that I would most likely call “Dad” was Delroy. Delroy was from Minnesota, raised on a farm. He liked to party and was a very hard worker. He had a Wife and two Daughters, but still somehow found time to spend hours teaching me a common-sense way of solving problems. When I was young I was full of my own self-importance and constantly brimming with opinions. It’s only now that I’m older I realize a few things about myself, and about Delroy.
Young men are beautiful and brilliant and at the same time can be rather tiresome and lazy. Sometimes even deadly and destructive. When I am interacting with younger men I now feel a bit like Delroy must have felt talking to me. He never showed any impatience at my egoistic notions, never let me know how stupid I sounded. He used to listen to me give him advice as if he took me seriously. Now that I’m an older man I realize how stupid and inexperienced I sounded. When I am faced with the same sort of behavior from younger men in my life today I forcefully think of Delroy and how patient he was, so that I might act similarly.
Delroy was the kind of person that could laugh right in your face about something stupid you did and make you feel like laughing too. He taught me to laugh at myself. He gave me most of my best carpentry skills for free, just for asking and helping him carry heavy stuff. We used to roll our own together. He taught me to look behind when I put the tractor in reverse. (Still feel sheepish about that.)
Delroy – wherever you are, thanks. Thanks for giving a damn about me. You were not a perfect man, but you were the best man I ever knew, and you were like a Dad to me, and it made all the difference in my life. May the cold wind not blow too strongly through your thin jacket, may the grasping skexies not drain your life-force, and may you have enough of what you want, and all of what you need.