I’ve been watching the World Cup. My dad would be proud. I do not follow soccer; I mean football and can only recognize the player’s names because my students wear their jerseys – Messi, Rooney, Dempsey, Ronaldo, and Beckham. I know a couple of those players are retired. Nevertheless, I am watching. It’s Father’s Day morning and there is calm throughout the house. I am back outside in my garden office, Ivy at my feet guarding the yard from intruders. I started indoors this morning with Ivy under the table at my feet there, too, but I decided to move outside and enjoy the morning.
Last night I checked Facebook and discovered a high school friend had posted a picture of him and his dad. The looked exactly as I remembered them. Most of my photos of dad are ‘old school’ and I have not transferred them over to digital, yet. The day will come, though a few years ago I went through slides and photos at my mom’s house and came across the photo below. I scanned it and saved it for all of us. I think mom has the original, but I have the copy. I skimmed through the flash drive and found a photo of dad and I. My brothers came along for the ride, too. I posted it with my Happy Father’s day message. I hope they appreciate the trip down memory lane.
This morning, I went back in time and re-read old posts. They links are below. Father’s Day 2010 is raw and real and Father’s Day comes early is one of my favorite posts. I can close my eyes and remember the sounds, smells, and events of that day four years ago.
Father’s day is early this year, early in June, as early as it gets. The first of June was a Sunday and Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June; it’s the way the calendar works. The mind works in completely different ways.
Today brings back many memories – some good, some not so good, but memories that have shaped me. Shaped me into the person that I have become.
My dad was my dad, he was shaped by the events of his life and he gave what he could. He, like me, had his regrets, just as I have many. I also have many triumphs as a dad. It’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda game,’ very easily. It’s negativity, man – so, I won’t. This morning I will remember my dad for what he shared, what he taught me; and to laugh, smile, weep.
My dad was a geek. I mean that only in the best way. My dad was a chemical engineer. He was smart and he was good at it. He wrote a book on hydrocarbon processing and it was published in 1973, a second edition was published in 1977. The book is still referenced by chemical engineers; in fact, one of my students came across it a couple of years ago in random internet search. He learned to use a personal computer at the age of 54 in 1987. Before that, he taught himself to use a programmable calculator. He never embraced the internet, or tried. Last summer, I taught Julie, his wife and my step-mom how to use an iPad. She still uses it, mostly for e-mail and occasionally I get surprise e-mail.
Because my dad was a chemical engineer, he traveled to where the oil was. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and many more countries. We lived in Paris in 1966 and in Venezuela 1969-70. We would have followed him to Saudi Arabia in 1972, but my mom put her foot down and they separated for a year. He returned a year later, but he wanted to travel for work and mom did not. They separated for a final time in 1974 and divorced in early 1975. He moved to Saudi Arabia, remarried, and lived overseas in Europe – England, Norway, and France almost exclusively until he retired in 1998.
My dad was a sports fan, that’s where I get it. He loved football (American), baseball, and basketball, but basketball was his favorite sport – especially college basketball. He played gold and enjoyed watching it on television. However, living overseas, apart from America, made following these sports difficult. So, he adapted he learned to enjoy European sports – football (soccer, I mean), cricket, and rugby to name a few.
He retired on his 65th birthday in 1998. He left France for the USA the following day. He had traveled so much for work that he vowed that he’d never get on an airplane, again. He never did. He came home to Houston and moved to Oxford, Mississippi two years later. He passed away in 2009 and in a way; the blog is a result of his passing.
1998 was the year W was born; it was also the year the World Cup was in France. They won it, too. Somewhere in our home, we have an official soccer ball and an official mascot – the Cock. I don’t dare mention that in polite company or in my classroom. It’s a chicken.
I know my dad would be following the cup this year, too. He would be amazed at the technology today to follow the event. He would poo-poo the tweets, the status updates, and the constant chatter. Maybe he is right, but it is a different world today that it was then. I think he’d especially enjoy the clarity of the picture on the television screen. But, I know he would be frustrated with me because I don’t know anything about football. I got thinking about what I know and what I don’t know. That’s one of the things he taught me – to be curious, to think, and to challenge myself.
I’ve taught seventh grade geography for the past fourteen years, so I challenged myself to think geographically and came up with a challenge:
- Name as many cities in Brazil as I could,
- Name the participants in this year’s World Cup,
- And, identify (using blank maps) label the countries participating.
I did not do too badly. I named six cities, 20 of the 32 teams, and could correctly identify 28 of the 32 countries on the map. Though, in my defense, I was only off by 150 to 800 km (100 – 500 miles) on the countries I missed. I did mention that I don’t follow football. That’s my disclaimer. I think my dad would have done much better than I, in fact, I know it. Give it whirl; here are the maps I used and the survey I developed: the world map, Europe, and Africa. Let me know how you did in the comments.
My dad was a global citizen at a time when many Americans weren’t. Many still aren’t. That’s my legacy from my dad, at least one of them. I often wonder what he’d think of the blog. Though, I am past worrying what others think.
Tomorrow, Team USA plays Ghana. I’ll be watching and so will the world. My dad would have been, too.
Today is gonna be a great day, I know it, I can feel it. However, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day or it will surely pass me by. Happy Father’s Day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one memory, one trip back down memory lane.
What is your legacy from your father? And, how did you do on the challenge?