Ten things I’ve learned from my draft-dodgin’ dad

  1. Being raised by a single mom who moved all over the state of California is tough. When your mom and absentee jazz trombonist dad also had problems with drinking and money, it’s tougher. You are likely to either follow suit or go the exact opposite way. I’m lucky my dad did the latter.
  2. People can change in unexpected and incredible ways. My dad was raised a seventh-day adventist young Republican, only to turn around and flee the country as a conscientious objector and renounce religion (although he has always been a “spiritual” person). Now he’s more boring. Which is probably the right choice.
  3. When you don’t have a real dad in the picture, you have to figure out for yourself what it means to be a man, and a good father. My dad is a good person, but his desire to be there for me can be suffocating. It feels strange to complain about a dad who always wants to support me. But it’s true.
  4. Music, poetry, art….these are a part of who you are. No matter the level of success, I always feel more complete when I’m creating. My dad is still writing, playing, and thinking.
  5. I am proud of my dad for a lot of things. His bravery in opposing an unjust war, his risky choice to become an entrepreneur, his dedication to my mom, my sister, and I, and the honest and fair way he runs his business and treats people. He is a good man. He is also an annoying man.
  6. Computers are complicated for older people who have absolutely no intuition about how to use computers.
  7. Some of the funniest things people say are inadvertent. My family was driving up to our cottage many years ago, and we were looking for a restaurant. My dad looked over at a store and said “what about that place?” After a few seconds, he clued in: “oh, the sign says ‘sweaters.’ That’s not a restaurant at all.”
  8. What’s the thing about dads and sons? Is it just a biological fact that we will always drive each other crazy? Aren’t there exceptions to that rule? Sigh..
  9. When we say that we “have baggage”, what we really mean is that we have done things, and those things have affected us emotionally. So, we are human beings living in the world. Is that a good enough reason not to start a relationship, a family, a new job? My dad had baggage…lots of it. So did my mom. But if not for them, there would be no me. And I can be a pretty fantastic dude. So…thanks mom and dad!!
  10. A few years ago, my dad had some friends and family over to my parents’ house to celebrate an anniversary of him coming to Canada (and the fact that he is officially more Canadian than American). He read a short speech he had written, and began talking about the Iraq War, that he felt like he was seeing Vietnam all over again (in terms of the culture of the US and the overall decision-making). He got choked up talking about it…I guess these things stay with you, and as we get older we see cyclical patterns.  It must be hard to feel like you accomplished a victory, only to see something similar happen a few decades later. That doesn’t make it pointless to do just things…but maybe you just do those things for you, because you just can’t control the rest of the world.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Ten things I’ve learned from my draft-dodgin’ dad

  1. One of my High School teachers was a ‘draft dodger’ from Waco Texas. He went into basic training when he was drafted, and did fine until it got to the part about killing the enemy. He knew he couldn’t kill. So he made his way up to Canada. Canada got some good people as a result of the Vietnam war.

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