Monday, June 17, 2013

Things I Learned from my Father-in-law

I have a good Father-in-law.  Now, I realize that's kind of like saying, "I have the good kind of cancer", but in my case it's really true.  "Pop", as I like to call him, is a good man.  He has been a great Dad to his children, and, even though it's taken me a while to figure it out, he's been really good to me and my kids.  And, by the way, "Dad" is a big deal to me because I lost my Dad when I was 6 years old, so for me to feel good about a Father is no small thing.  In light of Father's Day, I thought I'd take some time to write about some of the things I've learned from my Father-in-law.  Here goes:

1. Fishing is a Sport - My Father-in-law is a brilliant fisherman.  The man could throw a bait into a mud puddle and retrieve a 5 lb bass.  If Jesus tried to tell him to throw his line on the other side of the boat, Pop would find a way to correct Him.  He can flat out fish, and if you ever go fishing with him, you'll come to realize that he's not interested in some therapeutic boat ride to a place of emotional tranquility.  For Pop, fishing is a sport, and you better come ready to play.  You'll be standing and casting and reeling the entire time, and if you don't completely wear your shoulder out by the end of the trip, you're a wuss in his book.  

2.  Don't do People's Jobs for Them - Let me give you a fine example of this "Pop-ism".  Let's say you're at the grocery store and you need to grab a couple of jugs of milk, some cereal, a few bags of chips and two or three 12 packs of your favorite beverage.  You load everything into your grocery buggy and proceed to checkout, after which you push the buggy to your car and unload.  Now, at this juncture, we all have a decision to make: to return the buggy or not?  Some of us will push the buggy all the way back to the front of the store where we got it.  Others will simply push it to the striped yellow fake parking spot and hope it doesn't careen out of control into the sweet Cadillac that just pulled up to rent a movie from the Redbox.  

Well, Pop is not a buggy-pusher-backer.  In his world, the grocery market pays someone good money to comb the parking lot for stray buggy's and bring them back to the front of the store where they belong.  Why would he presume to do that fine person's job for them?  You know, I hate to say it, but he's kind of right!

3. "You need to..." is not a bad thing - It's nearly impossible to have a conversation with my Father-in-law without hearing the words, "You need to..."  It took me a long time to get used to this aspect of Pop's personality.  In the early days, when he said "You need to...", I didn't really hear anything else he said.  In my mind I heard "You're not doing it right", or "You're an idiot", or "I can't believe I let you marry my daughter." But what I've come to realize is that Pop is a believer in constructive criticism, and the emphasis here should be on the word "constructive."  He doesn't think I'm an idiot (most of the time!).  At the core, he's just trying to help, and I've found that what follows the words "You need to..." is usually worth listening to.  

These are only a few of the things that I've learned from my Father-in-law, but there are many, many more.  When I married my wife, I knew I was signing up for "Pop's School of Hard Knocks", but what I've come to realize is that those hard knocks were really just love taps.  I love you, Pop, and I'm real glad you're in my life.  Happy Father's Day!