I went home this weekend for Father's Day, and it was fantastic. I took my father out for a round of golf, and that meant so much to the both of us. Last time we were golfing together was five years ago. I was recovering from a shoulder injury, and had to skip the last couple of holes because I aggravated it. We were with his friends, too, and they cut off their day of fun so that my father could take me home. I was so frustrated, and I'm sure he wasn't particularly thrilled either...
My father and I had a rough start. And by start, I mean my life up until halfway through college. He's built stocky and muscle-laden; I had always been shrimpy even after my growth spurt in high school. I never was able to do the things he did; I was too weak for heavy manual labor, too impatient/unlucky for hunting and fishing, too OCD to get anything done with woodworking. In high school, he made an effort when he was home, but at that point I was an angry teenage kid who really didn't know how to learn anything that wasn't immediately intuitive or written down step-by-step in a textbook.
But when I really sat down and thought about starting a family, I realized I wasn't anywhere close to where I wanted to be. My father's brothers and sister are extremely close, help each other out, and function great as a unit. They always worked with their father while he was alive, and support their mother as the family matriarch to this day. What example was I setting for my cousins, of which I'm the second oldest? Was this the type of family setting to introduce a girl I loved into? Was this the precedent I wanted to set for my children? No, it wasn't; I needed to grow up and act like a true member of my family. And that starts with my father.
In retrospect, my father tried to connect with me, but I was too hotheaded or easily frustrated to do the things he liked. I must have been 7 or so when he bought me a 1 wood, a 5 iron, a 7 iron, and a putter from Goodwill, took a hacksaw to the shafts, put new grips on the ends and said, "Here you go." He was, and still is, incredibly resourceful, another thing I overlooked often. Now, a decade and a half later, I finally resolved myself to learning how to golf, and do it well. I've spent countless hours at courses and driving ranges this spring, working on my consistency, aim, and form. I even spent 3 weeks with a back injury because I drove 250 balls in one night, refusing to leave until I fixed the slice in my drive.
This weekend was the first time we had golfed together and enjoyed ourselves in as long as I can remember. We even went bowling and played racquetball, two other sports he introduced me to as a child but I never really grasped until recently. The best part of it all was when he said, in a way I had never heard him before, "I really enjoyed spending time with you. Thanks for coming home and doing this." In that moment, I felt like I wasn't just his son, but a friend, a peer, someone he could be with to just have fun.
I step back, and I'm beginning to like what I see.