On Father's Day spend some time with the one who's always there for you


There are very few things you can count on in this world, but for as long as I can remember my father’s been one of them.

As a young child growing up in Spokane, Washington, my father always seemed to be working. He worked at a factory during the day, laid carpet in the evenings and spent his time at home perpetually remodeling.

If you wanted to hang out with dad, you were probably working. My older brother and I would accompany him on carpet jobs and assist with various projects, though admittedly in those days I was much more interested in Nintendo than carpentry or fixing lawnmowers.

Over the years my parents scraped up enough money to purchase a mosquito infested property on a river small enough you could throw stone across it. It was there my father helped us carve out a tree into some semblance of a canoe over the course of a summer. I learned how to set up a tent. How to start a fire and how to cook over it.

It was there I learned to ride a three-wheeler and a dirt bike and how to change spark plugs and chains. I learned how to drive a boat, and tried my hand at water skiing.

When I was 11, my parents decided to move back home to Lisbon. My grandfather on my father’s side had fallen ill and my father came back to help run the farm with his brother Steve, who has since passed.

Although moving to rural farm life was a dramatic change for my brothers and I, one thing remained the same.

If you wanted to spend time with dad, you'd be working. Despite my fierce resistance to learn anything farm related, I spent the next seven years learning to farm.

And while it was certainly not my calling and I wanted nothing to do with it, I lack room in this column to even begin listing the things I learned in those seven years. Some practical things, like driving a tractor, milking cows or backing up four-wheeled wagons and how to saddle a horse, fix a fence or change tires. Other lessons were deeper like the importance of facing the day, regardless of what you did the night before. The ability to keep pushing on when you feel like you've got nothing left and the realities of life and death that come with being around livestock.

Over the years things have changed. The farm's sold and I'm now a father myself. My dad's now a grandfather and for the first time he's getting some well deserved rest. He gets to spend time with my kids that he didn't have when I was young and they are fortunate to be learning from him just like I did.

The amount of knowledge my father's passed on to me over the years is incomprehensible. It's part of who I am and how I see the world and sadly it's probably less one-one thousandth of what he tried to teach me.

On Sunday I'll be fortunate enough to spend some time with my dad on Father's Day and if I listen I'll probably learn something useful. If being a dad has taught me anything, it is that life moves faster once you have kids. I know that someday I won’t be lucky enough to spend the holiday with my dad anymore.

For many people that's already a reality that can make it hard to enjoy. But, I also know that the gifts my father's given me are mine to keep forever. I know that I'm already passing them down to my children and that's something I don’t take for granted.

So this Sunday if you can make it work, spend some time with that person who has been a father to you; that person who you’ve been able to count on always. 

And if you can't do that, it’s worth taking a minute to appreciate all they've given you and try to understand in passing down those lessons, they are in many ways still right there with you when it counts.

Jimmy Lawton is the author of Editor's Notebook and the News Editor of North Country This Week and NorthCountryNow.com