It's been a melancholy day of sorts for me. Besides having to drive the three-hour trip home from a rather disappointing show in Blowing Rock, North Carolina I returned to find Ben still a bit under the weather. He's evidently been fighting a sinus infection since the beach trip; unsuccessfully I might add. Oh yeah...it's Fathers Day.
The drive through the mountains today let me reflect upon the idea of fatherhood. Fifteen years have now passed since my own Dad tragically left us. Suffering an aneurysm At the age of 51, it is without a doubt he left this Earth way too young. One evening during our recent beach reunion my Mom, brothers, and I shared many stories about my father with our wives and children. It was a few hours filled with smiles, laughter, and just a few tears mixed in because Papa Carroll left that kind of legacy.
Being the oldest son I was his namesake. For most of my life I honestly couldn't stand that first name I shared with Dad. The first day of school was always rough as I was teased mercilessly at having a "girl's name." Even now that I've reached my mid-40s I occasionally receive mail giving me a discount on make-up or tampons for a lady by the name of "Carroll B. Waddell, Jr." I assume the super intelligent marketing industry has somehow missed out on what that suffix at the end of my name might mean. Either that or they think I do the personal and sanitary shopping for my wife.
But as I got older and particularly after his death I began to appreciate "the name" and the connection it has to someone who touched so many lives in a positive way. My father was no saint by any means. In fact I inherited most of his flaws. I would also like to think I inherited the best part of him as well because those are the things I remember about him so well these days. I'm only reminded of the shortcomings when Joan or Jessie let me "hold it" and then Mom tells me I'm acting just like "your father" when I gripe to her about "it."
These days I feel I have some big shoes to fill (strange how that came out, wouldn't you say?). Besides having my father's "stamp in the sand" I also have Ben's as well. Carroll III's smile and demeanor resembles Dad's in so many ways. Is there regret? Yes and plenty of it. My Dad SO wanted grandchildren. That is something my mother revealed to us just last week. He would've made a terrific grandfather and he would've been a grand shoulder to lean on during the tough times we've had during Ben's life. My father was a rock, a leader, a humorist, a kind disciplinarian, and an incredibly wise man - all the qualities you would want in a father. Those are the same qualities I still seek as I try to be a father to my own two kids.
My Dad also never played favorites. He was just as loving and supportive to my brothers as he was to me. But as my mother and I lamented about that beach night discourse there is no doubt in our minds about how Carroll III would've been his "little man."
I think about these things tonight. I think about two bloggers I read almost daily who embody the spectrum of Fatherhood. The Curmudgeon and Creative-Type Dad. One has children leaving the nest while the other is still keeping the nest warm. My hope is that they are the majority representing fathers. I wish them a terrific Fathers Day with many years of June memories and I also pray for the same. I want to be the kind of father Papa Carroll was and still is to this very day fifteen years later.
Sunday, June 17, 2007