My father died over two years ago. It had been several years since I had talked to him.  Our last encounter was one that I will never forget. We truly almost came to blows. I’m not one to fight. But that day I was ready to.  

Thankfully it didn’t happen. As you can tell, my father and I weren’t on good terms. But I am happy it didn’t get worse on that day. He was an alcoholic. It ended up tearing my family apart.  We still are not completely healed. I don’t know if we ever will be. 

But that’s not the purpose of writing this. Becoming a father myself has me reflecting on my upbringing. To be honest, I had a pretty “normal” childhood for most of my life. The issues arrived later on.  

What I have been reflecting on most is, what did I experience that best enabled me to be me?  And how can I allow my daughter to be herself and encourage her to be whomever she wants and do whatever she wants.  

Looking back, my father certainly shared his opinions and interests with me. But he always seemed to leave room for me to form my own interests and opinions. Sports, music and cars are three of the biggest interests we shared. I think my father was happy that I showed interest in these things. I’m not quite sure how much I wanted to play soccer and I know I certainly did not want to go running with him after school. But I always wanted to play basketball and watch football.

My father never cared about fandom. To this day, I couldn’t tell you who any of his favorite teams were. My grandfather grew up in Pittsburgh and loved the Steelers. But knowing how their relationship was, I don’t think my dad liked them at all. I have been an Eagles fan for all my life and none of that has to do with my father. I loved watching Reggie Miller play and it made me a Pacers fan, and once again, I don’t think my father ever showed any interest in the Indiana Pacers. Then again, I don’t think anyone else in Northeast Pennsylvania did either. Sports were an integral part of our relationship. I know I will absolutely share my fandom with my daughter, but I am also happy to have had the space to become a fan of the teams I wanted to rather than inherited. 

Thinking about my father and who he was, music was his thing. He went to school for radio broadcasting and worked in that field for a little while before having a wife and kids. He graduated high school in the mid 1970s so you can picture what the state of music was at that time. Rock n Roll was king then and it was in my house for a long time. The radio dial was always tuned to Rock 107. The amount of Warren Zevon I heard growing up was probably unhealthy. And while he certainly played and listened to the music he liked, once again he always let me find my own favorite artists. I’m quite certain he didn’t care for “What’s My Age Again” like I did (and still do).  

My father was a flawed man. There is no doubting that. I actively try not to be like him in so many ways, especially now that I have a child. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good in there. And him giving me the space to develop my own interests is one of the best things he did.  It is something I would like to make sure my daughter has the ability to do as well.  

Well as long as she doesn’t become a Cowboys fan.      

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