Monday Quote: Fatherhood

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

I have never read Umberto Eco, but I love the “scraps of wisdom” image.

My relationship with my father has not been easy. We wasted too many years trying to make the other fit into some idealized image we held of “father” and “daughter.” Since he wasn’t an everyday presence in my childhood, I didn’t know where to fit him in my life. It never occurred to me that he probably didn’t know the best way to fit in either. I believed he should just accept and adore me on my own terms, flaws and all; but I was completely unwilling to return that favor.

Only as an adult have I come to understand that parents don’t have all the answers. We make mistakes all the time and need our children’s forgiveness and compassion as often as we give it. So, my relationship with my dad still has complications, but we meet each other head on, on the terms we make up as we go, with acceptance and compassion for each other.

And I treasure the odd moments and scraps of wisdom.

I have always understood that you just have to get up and go to work every day. My dad worked for the phone company from the time he was young enough to climb poles and repair lines until well after I was married and he was managing & training large groups of employees. The business name changed from Illinois Bell to AT&T to Ameritech, but my father remained consistent. It’s a lesson I took to heart.

I will always know my dad’s pride in me, which is caught with two snapshots in my mind. The first when I was 10 or 11 years old, performing in my first lead role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. My dad had broken his finger playing softball, but at the end of the show as I looked out at the audience, he was the one person I saw, clapping ecstatically, finger splint and all. The second snapshot is from my wedding day. As I came out of my room ready for church, my dad dropped to his knees and began crying tears of joy. He held my face in his hands and told me I was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.

I have also had the great fortune to belong to a family with intense loyalty. There is nothing my dad wouldn’t do for his brothers and sisters. Our Murguia clan was geographically and emotionally close during my formative years, which gave me a very liberating sense of security. Knowing that someone has your back, always and no matter what, grants you the courage to take risks.

As the mother of sons I am grateful for the little bit I know about fishing. I can bait a hook, thread a bobber and get a fish of a line. Thanks Dad.

These days, my dad is teaching me a lot about grace and faith as he struggles with ALS. I wish that the circumstances could be otherwise, but I admire how has handled this journey from the moment of diagnosis through each step leading up to his decision to turn to hospice care. I know he and his wife have found courage in faith and trust in grace. Those are never easy lessons to learn, and certainly not ones you want to have to teach. But I am grateful all the same.

Happy Father’s Day Dad.

6 thoughts on “Monday Quote: Fatherhood

  1. What a really beautiful post. It is difficult sometimes, the relationship between parents and children. I”m glad you and your dad have been able to sort of work things out between you. It is important. I’m sorry to hear of his diagnosis. ALS is a vicious disease, and I’m sure it was as difficult for you to hear as it was for him to have to tell you. Thankfully, you’ll have some time to tell him what you need to before it’s too late.


    • Thank you for the thoughtful response. ALS is terrible and terrifying, but I am grateful that it has allowed me to see another side of my dad. I appreciate the comment so much.


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