Passing on the Brand

Hiatus

Months have gone by since my last post. My thoughts have not changed on Trump. I announced support for Hillary Clinton after the DNC. The intervening months have only strengthened my decision.

Silence is Golden

I get quiet when there is a lot happening. Writing is usually the first thing to go when I get busy. Priorities often limit my own time for reflection. Three months is a long time for me, so something big has kept me from taking time to form words.

My wife is pregnant, and we are expecting a son in April 2017.

I just turned 39. I will be near the same age as my grandfather when my grandparents began having children. The mirror where I view my own life through my grandfather’s is pretty clear right now. There are a lot of differences; in us, in our environment, in the world. I have come to see more similarities with my grandfather than I ever would have imagined as a child.

So comes the realization that my grandfather is my primary role model for how I will be as a father. I recall him more as the family patriarch he became than the mysterious authority figure of my childhood.

It wasn’t until I was 15 when we developed the close bond I cherish today. My grandfather shared stories of his youth, of growing up in segregation, of what the town and the world was like as he remembered. He shared with me the experiences which would mold his values and reasoning that built the rules of the house where we lived.

By the time I was 20, I had a good sense of who my grandfather was and my role to build upon our family’s legacy. We had become close, but in a relationship about ten years overdue.

Awkward Evidence of Bad Timing

My grandfather had the sex talk with me when I was almost 21. I had brought a female friend back to Virginia with me on an impromptu visit. It was about 2 in the morning, in the kitchen, after she had left for the guest bedroom and before I was about to sleep on the couch. It was a surreal moment as I was long past his ability to communicate about sexuality.

As weird as it was, it was also the moment our parent/child relationship was complete. All things before led to it, and all things after that night changed.

In a couple of years, I completed school, returned home, and our dynamic changed to me as a caretaker. I drove for him when he could no longer drive. I made doctor appointments and took him to the store. When he was hospitalized and went to a nursing home, I had an accelerated experience of caring for an aging parent. Thankfully, I was not alone. The rest of our family was there for support, help, and to pick up my own shortcomings.

Preparation

I think about my relationship with my grandfather, and I think about how I want to be as a father. I want my son to experience something like the relationship I had with my grandfather at 15 when he is about 5. I want it to be better, in my own way. I am more open, and the world has been a different place for me than it was my grandfather.

I want my son to understand me through the experiences and stories I pass on, and apply things I have learned to his own life. He will be the judge of my life, as I now become the judge of my grandfather’s.

Final Verdict

My verdict of my grandfather as a parent is to pass on some of what he taught me, some of what he gave me, and some of who he was to our son. I think he would be happy with that. He wasn’t a perfect man. Neither am I.

In this tone, I have drawn upon a quote for my goal as a parent, to pass father to son.

All that I have, all that I’ve learned, everything I feel… all this, and more, I… I bequeath you, my son. You will carry me inside you, all the days of your life. You will make my strength your own, and see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine.

Superman (1978)

If our son grows up to have the same judgement of me, I will be happy.

Fear and a Trump Presidency

This is a series of tweets I wrote toward the end of Donald Trump’s GOP Convention Nomination Acceptance Speech I wish to share. 

It’s easy to feel fear. It’s natural, it’s human. What you do with that fear helps define you as a person.

You can let fear turn you mean and cruel. Fear can make you close out others in distrust.

I think fear can be used to motivate yourself and inspire others to be better. To help make the world less fearful.

In the face of fear, I like to smile. I own my fear, and don’t let it control me. Smiling breaks fear’s power for me. 

I’m not going to fear a Trump presidency. I’m going to do all I can to help others to rise above their fear, grinning the whole way. 

No matter what happens, no matter the worst, I’m not going to let that son of a bitch take my smile from me. 

On Political Correctness.

Let’s talk about political correctness a moment. 

I’m seeing a lot of posts and comments with the repeat phrase “why do we have to be so politically correct?” My answer to that is without practicing political correctness, people have time and again disregarded the dignity of others. Usually those others are more vulnerable, less fortunate, and have less agency than those making the non-PC statements. 

Granted, being politically correct doesn’t mean the heart underneath is good, just as being politically incorrect doesn’t mean you are a bad person. However, working to improve the experience of others by thinking carefully about the words and phrases we choose is a good thing.

So the next time you think about throwing out political correctness for the sake of expediency, consider your message. Do you want people from other groups to consider your idea with an open mind? Are you trying to convince others of a concept which would require sacrifice or a consideration against their own self-interest? Odds are you would receive a better response thinking critically about how others would respond to the words you choose, and how you would want them to select words wisely for you. 

In the end, taking a moment to treat others with dignity is always a better option.