Fatherhood is second only to Motherhood in its importance as a life role. It is the highest honor a man can have. It is a privilege, a gift, a challenge that comes with a forever responsibility.
When you sign on to become a father, it is a lifelong commitment, not just a day job or night job. There is no contract dispute, no changing the job description; it is simply your responsibility, period!
Remember, your child didn’t ask to be born, you chose to bring them into this world so you owe them the very best you can give. Aside from the basics of food, shelter and clothing; love, warmth, affection, joy, comfort & protection & security are most important and are absolute prerequisites & are non-negotiable. You have the infinite power of shaping a life and that is a huge job with basic ground rules but no definitive individual handbook as all children are different. Sure, there are proven methods and rules to follow and theories but they are not hard and fast. There are so many variables that come into play that to some degree you are in uncharted territory. You have basically opted in for the Life Coach occupation and have plunged head first into the sea of child rearing and life shaping. There is no turning back.
The upside is the fulfillment of this unique experience and the ultimate achievement of success in this indefinite pass fail system, for you grow with your child, learning along the way as you make choices & the mistakes from which you learn (no one is perfect).
Children need to be loved and know they are loved, unconditionally. And that they get from their parents, first & foremost. If they don’t, or if you falter along the path as they grow with time, then you have failed at the easiest pleasure in the world. Loving your children is a gift, it isn’t a chore. It should come as naturally as the sun rises every day.
How can you not indulge your children with forever love and affection? That is unconscionable; it is against every law of nature. Parents who hold back their love from their children, or use it as a vehicle to bribe them or worse, sabotage them should not be parents. They wind up causing serious emotional disturbance and sometimes irreparable harm to innocents who unwittingly absorb their parent’s negativity and selfishness.
I guess it really upsets me when I see or hear about fathers in particular who are angry, resentful or who take the job with too cavalier an attitude.
I was very blessed to have been born into a family where love and affection and warmth were ever present, no matter what else and it was unconditional love. That’s not to say that we could run roughshod and do whatever we wanted and that there were no consequences. True love teaches privileges but with commensurate responsibility.
I can speak only on Fatherhood, as I am a father. I had the greatest father in the world. “Sure”, you say, “but my father was the best Dad in the world.” Well, I sincerely hope you feel that way, for if you do, count yourself lucky. There are plenty of us out there who feel that way but we are far out-numbered by those who had a less than satisfactory childhood or worse yet, an abusive one. Some of you never knew your fathers; others wish you had never known them.
Realizing that I am in the minority, it is important to me that I share my happiness and pay forward the benefits that I enjoyed so that I might reach someone who knows only a negative aspect of fatherhood and let them see that there is a better way, and that they must not take out on their children what was done to them. This chain of destruction must be broken so that when it is their turn at the plate as a father, they will do good, not evil. Anger and resentment should be worked out in therapy and not taken out on one’s children, for that is criminal in every respect. Sorry, no excuses. That’s a personal foul; you’re out.
Never ever raise a hand to your children or threaten them, intimidate them or make them shiver in fear of you, for it is wrong in every way for every reason. They should respect and honor you and love you because you have earned their love, not stolen it from them.
My father was the greatest human being I have ever known. He was loving, kind, warm, affectionate, caring, exciting, brilliantly funny, dedicated and always, and I do mean always, there for me. His love was permeating, be it a hug, a kiss, holding my hand or just a smile of approval from his sparkling blue eyes as he watched me struggle to achieve something. For him life was a celebration to be shared with his family. We were his universe and aside from having to work to make a living to provide for us, he was always there.
I remember him teaching me how to throw and catch a ball, how to rider a two-wheeler as he ran behind me holding on until I was finally able to balance on my own. A real metaphor for fatherhood!
We built go karts in the garage, from scratch, without plans using Briggs & Stratton lawn mower motors, kitchen chairs cut down and aircraft tubing……giving all the kids in the neighborhood rides when it was finished.
We went flying in small airplanes which he piloted, fishing, played ball, went on road trips, played the piano together, built snowmen, played chess, shot pool, went to museums, took family vacations, read books, watched television together, sat in front of the fireplace in the dead of winter, roasting pieces of salami on a stick and tossing in orange seeds to hear them puff and they blew up while our faces blushed red from the searing heat of the flaming logs as we stoked the fire for hours on end until we’d fall asleep from the intense driven heat.
The memories are thick and rich, although those years were too brief for my Dad passed suddenly and unexpectedly at the far too young age of 58. But he had in that eclipsed time raised the bar to extraordinary heights and clearly set the example for me to follow. He gave me all of the tools, both elemental and fundamental to survive. With the help of my older brother Alan, I was able to learn enough in that first year after losing pop, to run our family art business. It was 1974 now and the economy was in the midst of a raging recession so we had to work hard and fast to re-tool and reinvent ourselves. I employed the knowledge and applied the tactics and techniques I had so vigilantly watched my father use in his business and knew we would survive. I identified with Michael Corleone from the movie “The Godfather” as he too came out of the shadows in full force after his father died. I like he, took control of the reigns of our family business and with stiffened resolve, but without the violence, fought my way to certain victory. I had to carry on the legacy my father had built; I owed that to him. I could not let his life of efforts and endless work, come to an end. I was his son which was an honor and a privilege and I would make him proud.
I carried him with me in my heart and soul everywhere I went, honoring the years of life lessons and steadfast devotion he so generously imparted to me. I vowed to pass this man’s greatness on to my children when they would enter the world several years later. They needed to know how incredible their Grandfather was for they would only grasp at his presence by proxy though me and through the passage of his traits and characteristics which would flow though the very vessel of my existence, to them. It was a current of goodness and love that would bridge the generations willingly, as that would have been my father’s ultimate dream. His spirit and soul would live on through me and through them with more than an occasional visit, recognizable only by those for whom the message was intended.
My father was a master of spirit communication. At the cemetery after his funeral, there was a Piper Aztec circling above with its unmistakable sound. My mother, Alan, Arlyn (my wife) and I all looked up in unison and then looked at one another and nodded in contented acknowledgment. We knew he had moved to the next realm of existence; that he was free from the bonds of earthly restraint and was still able to fly, his first passion after his family.
Pop had been a pilot for years after taking his first flight at age 15. He had the bug and pursued it until he got his private pilot’s license, glider’s license, instrument rating and then his commercial rating. He clawed his way up from a series of single engine airplanes to his last, a twin engine Piper Aztec, his baby.
I started flying with him when I was six years old at a private grass field airstrip. I was petrified but after several humiliating aborted attempts to lift off and “go around” I mustered the nerve, mostly out of embarrassment and up we went. He was ever so patient and sympathetic to my fears of the 1000 or so feet of airspace between us and the ground below. I clutched that airframe seat for dear life. Each time after got easier with his gentle reassurance and guidance to overcome my fears until we were fast sky partners on a very regular basis.
After he died, I lost my partner and wondered if I would ever fly again. One day, later that month, I called my father’s old instructor and took him up on the offer to “go up” with me one last time. We did just that and had a beautiful clear day flight for half an hour with me flying left seat. After we landed and taxied back to the hanger I called the line crew to put her back and left the airport.
Torn with mixed emotions, I went back a couple of weeks later and had the line crew take her out of the hanger. After a walk around and a complete pre-flight check I climbed in to the intoxication smell of the red leather, started her up and taxied out to the end of the runway, debating whether or not to go up. I had no license as I never logged my hundreds of hours, but I could do this. Those twin Lycomings were ready but I was not. It just wasn’t the same. There was a void so wide I was disabled by it. I was restrained with an emptiness that enveloped me. I turned back, set her up by the hanger and leaned out the mixtures till her propellers sputtered to a halt. I knew this would be the last time; got out, gave her a kiss and a loving pat farewell and made that dreaded call to a pilot friend of my Dad for the name of a broker who would find a good home for her. I knew he’d have wanted it that way, knowing full well how painful it would be for me and that if the shoe were one the other foot, he’d have done the same thing.
So, in a symbolic gesture, with great emotional conflict, I sold her, giving someone else the opportunity to experience the love and goodness my father had shared me, his son. It was my way of paying forward, which is just what Pop would have wanted. He spent his life paying forward to his sons, and so we would do the same.
You can see how the chain of time, either positive or negative can be passed forward to the next generation of fathers and sons.
I have spent my life giving to my own two sons, whom I love dearly. I have tried to live up to my Dad and to make him proud. I work tirelessly to maintain the same levels of excellence and integrity in my personal life and in our business. I am made of the same moral fiber as my father, and our sons are as well. We all have the goodness and stand up attitude he possessed as these are traits that we have been gifted and taught to practice sometimes by direct instruction but mostly by imitation and have continued to keep them alive through the generations. Hence the Dot To Dot connection.
I began to write a book several years after Pop’s passing for I knew that my children, not yet born, would never really know him except through my recounting and stories. I had to paint a portrait with words which would create an indelible vision. It was a painful venture which I shelved sometimes for months at a time. The loss was persistent but so was my goal, so I continued digging my way through the tunnel of darkness until I began to see light again. Nearly three decades later, “Bader Field” was born. Pop was immortalized for all to know him and feel his loving embrace. Our sons would now have a living record of my father and his larger than life presence and his positive influence on myself and them. “Bader Field” was a small airport just outside of Atlantic City. We used to fly in and out of it on a regular basis. It was the last place I saw my father in the summer of 1973. That is where the story begins as it flashes back to earlier days and traverses through our family’s life. It is truly a journey of love, forgiveness and acceptance.
It is my hope that the book will show how good life can be and how there need to be more fathers like mine. That someone reading it will relinquish their anger and resentment for not having had that idyllic father and turn it around and give his son what he never had, paying it forward. The emotional richness of such a positive transference fills that void and supplants it with a new found love, enabling the next generation with a positive, fulfilling love, which will then hopefully be paid forward to their next generation.
The life lessons from this kind of action are precious and can only be fully appreciated by the application of this kind of good deed if you will. In life, we get what we give, good, bad or indifferent. It does not cost anything to be nice and loving especially to our sons, but the price of nastiness and disdain toward them is something no one of us can afford. It is unjust, immoral and just plain wrong. Logic good sense and physics dictate that the best way to counter negative space is to fill it with positive space, thereby neutralizing it. Like a base solution mixing with an acid and diffusing it as it infiltrates it, disabling its harmful and disfiguring effects.
My father was a great art dealer, legendary to say the least. He once staged a Baroque painting exhibition in the gallery coordinating an evening with the Baroque Quartet he purchased from a public television charity auction. The gallery was packed; standing room only. He bought my mother a drill press for her birthday once so he could finish building a go kart in the garage. He was an accomplished musician (piano & harmonica), a practical joker, humorist, story teller, teacher, mentor, master chess player, pool shooter, crackerjack pilot, totally devoted loving husband, son, brother and so much more but he was to me first and always, the greatest father of all time. He was my best friend.