Michael started reading Shel Silverstein with Katlyn when she was little. They tried Harry Potter, but Katlyn was bored, so he moved on to Where The Sidewalk Ends. Katlyn is twenty and she now owns all of Shel Silverstein’s books, even the bad one about the rabbit. They still reference Shel’s stories in conversation, it’s like a secret club.
Michael bought Cotter his first comic book when he was little. He read it cover to cover and then Michael found a local comic book store for him to pick out more. Cotter is seventeen now and has an enviable comic book collection. He and Michael still visit the comic book store on a regular basis, the staff knows them, and sometimes they will sit at the table and talk or search eBay for some obscure first edition Cotter just has to have.
Michael started watching Scooby Doo with Maggie when she was little. She took to it right away and they would hold up in her room watching entire seasons on the weekends. Maggie is now fourteen and just last weekend they were revisiting some episode that sounded just plain silly to me. Michael can do a spot on Scooby voice. They have seen every episode of every season, so now they just replay their favorites.
He has done none of this because he had to, no one was watching. He has no limits, no rules to his fathering, he leaves his baggage at the door and who they become is more about them than it is about his trophy case.
Michael is one of the most complicated, often annoying, human beings I have ever met. He is many things and has grown throughout our years together, but one thing has always remained constant. He is simply the most extraordinary father.
He makes time. Wants to know what his children are thinking, what excites them, makes them laugh. He remembers growing up and has given pieces of himself to each of them.
When there’s nothing to do or a million things piling up. When we have money and when we don’t. When our children are dirty, cranky, rude or just plain nuts and when they are all crowded on the couch. When they are successful and when they fail. He sits, listens and the love he has for them is palpable, it surrounds them.
Our children carry him and his every day jokes or gestures with them into the world. Without even knowing it, or planning to, he has created family traditions that bond them to one another and individual legacies for each of them so they know what it is to stand out.
It is so fun to watch. I am always thankful, and I could not be more proud.
Happy Father’s Day, Michael.
That’s all from the laundry room. It’s Bedtime.
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Lucky people, Katlyn, Cotter, and Maggie. My father was no Michael. Nice tribute.
They really are so lucky. Mine wasn’t either. Thank you.