"Like Father Like Son" is such a tired cliché, but I'm proud to say it. That sentiment appeared on a wonderful card that my wife and I sent to my Dad on Father's Day just a few weeks ago. The photo showed a father walking away from the camera and his waist-high son right behind him, imitating his Dad's steps.
My Dad loved that card because he and I shared the same walk. My wife saw that walk one day over a dozen years ago, and with great affection she dubbed it the Schlich Shuffle. I carry other parts of him around with me, too. I've got his legs, his build, his brow, his seriousness and his mushy, schmaltzball heart.
That's nature, but I'm just as grateful for the nurture that he gave to me. My Dad *and* my Mom. One of their greatest gifts was the example of a stable marriage and a loving relationship. They taught me what it's like to stay committed to your mate. They taught me not by lectures, but by the simple act of demonstrating how it is done.
Here's another gift: some guys grow up knowing how to fix cars, because their Dad always had an engine apart in the driveway. I started typing at age 10, because there was a typewriter in the Den. My Dad was always pecking away at it, always writing something. I even copied his two-finger style of typing. I've made my living as a writer for over 20 years now, and I love my work. Thanks, Dad.
I've got elements of his personality. We both have strong opinions about right and wrong, about justice. He gave me a powerful sense of fairness. I remember clearly a time when I did something wrong as a child. He took me aside and told me, "You shouldn't have done that. I won't spank you this time because you didn't know. But if you do it again, I will." I didn't do it again.
He blessed everyone with that fairness. I'm telling you what he did for me, but I know that he did it for everyone. That was how he was. He didn't have two faces. He was honest to all people.
My Mom and my Dad supported the things that I did, even though they didn't always approve of them. They taught me that my interests and my passions have value. They taught me that other people's interests and passions also have value. They gave me self-confidence, and courage, and inner strength. They gave me the knowledge that I will always bounce back from my disappointments.
In a favorite saying of Vic's, I offer you that wisdom now... Illegitimi non Carborundum: Don't let the bastards get you down.
They gave me their optimistic view of the world. It has gotten me through the tough times, and it allows me to enjoy the good times.
What better gift
than that? Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. I love you.