In my youth and from my background, Father’s day was never featured and really, I don’t remember any hint of it in the culture of my time. Perhaps that was a northern thing, perhaps the great divide between the haves and the have nots, the North and the South, the then Working classes and the white collar workers of the era. I could feel sorry that my father seemed more absent than around, but such was the reality of a post World War country still grappling to get rid of ration cards and veterans returned trying to reconstruct the new world. For me, I just remember my father being a provider. He was more absent because he needed to earn income to cover family expenses for a family of six children and two adults. I do know that his work ethic and willingness to do whatever it took to cover his family influenced me as a worker.
As a youngster, raised in social housing by parents who earned very little, I took a paper round day and evening, worked Saturday mornings on a market stall and worked five evenings a week with my dad bailing cardboard to go to a paper mill. Dad and I worked Saturday afternoons and two thirds of Sundays doing the same. I always felt affectionate towards him and always welcomed his arrival at the workplace where bailing took place. We were paid by the piece and all of the income we made went to keeping the family. Such was the era.
It was when I started working that my dad came into his own. He bought me my first pair of Tuff boots, my bib ad brace overalls and of course my food for living during the first years of my indentured apprenticeship. His name is signed on my indenture documents and by this passage I am now a craftsman. Each day at dinner we would talk about my day and I would share what I had learned. I am sure he sensed the changes in me as my new heroes became two men I worked with. Quoting this or that view I had gleaned from them were forming some of my opinions and developing my character. When I needed a new tool I couldn’t quite buy from my wages my dad made up the difference. For five years he supported me in one way or another. Today is the day of celebrating fatherhood and I am glad, even though he is gone, that I was able to reconcile all things with him before he passed. Today I recall the the time he asked me, “What do you want to be when you leave school?” ‘A woodworker.‘ I replied, without faltering. “Apply for an apprenticeship then.” he said. This I did and I served my time. When ever my attitude wasn’t right he made me face change by asking simple questions. He disallowed self pity and false expectation on my part. So it was he helped me to discover my occupation. That was 53 years ago now. There is no regret. I raised my own family working with my hands and for the main part I cannot think of a day when I didn’t feel fulfilled doing just that. By choice I entered the realms of development and became the woodworker I am. Up until his parting my dad asked me every time we met how work was going. I always said fine because fine it was. Even when there were struggles it was ‘fine‘ because if his input to face obstacles head on. What a great man the father who provides for his family.
I understand that it is not the same for everyone, especially in today’s culture, so I am cautious to consider those who miss or missed having a dad at home and cannot reflect as I have here. Thankfully, where my dad left off, other men stepped in to continue my education in becoming an artisan. Look for such men and you will find one from time to time who will help you. People ask me why I take in an apprentice from time to time. This is it.