Stangl

Sunday is Father’s Day, a time to remember and honor the paterfamilias, father, the head of the household, pop, dad -- whatever his moniker at your house, Sunday is the day to pause and appreciate his contributions to who you are as a person.

I have said numerous times, and will continue to say it, the ‘nuclear’ family: mother, father and children is the bedrock foundation of our civilization. While we can carry on without this structure, the stress on the rest of society will be great and expensive.

I by no means mean to disparage single parents. These folks have to be both the mother and the father to their children. It is difficult enough being one, I can’t image the pressure of having to be both.

My parents have both passed, so my siblings and I are now the “older” generation, and, as those of you who are in the same place can attest, it is a strange place to be, especially at holidays like Mother’s and Father’s Day.

My father, who regular readers of this column will know as “The Chief” worked as a mechanic at the Chevrolet and later Buick dealership in the small town where I grew up. His specialty was the Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission that General Motors used from the 1960s to the 1980s.

He stood on a concrete floor all day working to provide for a wife and six children. My mother worked part time as a nurse, which helped our family’s income later, but make no mistake, the Chief was the breadwinner.

He went to work at 7:30 each morning, got an hour off for lunch (spent half of it napping) and came home hungry at 5:30. It was never a good idea as a child to wake the Chief, whether he was napping after lunch or dozing off watching television after supper. The phrase “don’t poke the bear” comes to mind. It may be tempting, but it never ends well.

My generation was taught by our mothers to leave our fathers alone.

I have heard that much of who we are is formed by our parents and our observations of who they are as men and women, husband and wife, father and mother.

From the Chief, I learned the value of work and the importance of following through on commitments. If you said you were going to do something, you did it. It didn’t matter if someone else didn’t follow through, what mattered was that you did.

We didn’t have much money growing up. Six kids, one income, do the math. But we didn’t go hungry or naked and had a roof over our heads. That didn’t stop us as foolish young children from asking for things we really didn’t need.

The Chief had a real gem for such requests, one that I used on my children and I hope to live long enough to see my grandchildren hear it from the lips of my children: “People in Hell want ice water.” Succinct and to the point, but makes you think. Works on many levels.

Good or bad, I realize that I am the sum of my experiences and have been heavily influenced by my father.

For that, I will always be grateful.

Happy Father’s Day.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.