Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's Day Thanks

The Hallmark people got Fathers Day all wrong. Instead of getting gifts, I should be sending thank you cards to you and your brother.
Garrett, me and Dad
Women enjoy a physical and intractable bond with their children, something of which all men are secretly jealous. We instead must cultivate our connection with that squirming little bundle of life.

But you make it easy. I earned my “Dad” the first time you looked up and smiled as I held you in my arms. I’m forever blessed that neither you nor Garrett ever stopped smiling. Thanks to you, happy Fathers Day to me!

Biology being what it is, I’m not only a father but also a son. So I’ve puzzled through the Fathers Day gift from both sides. Mothers Day gifts were always easy – something pretty, something clutzy I made myself or just flowers. Hugs, kisses and joyful tears guaranteed.

But what to get Dad?

If flowers are the default for Mothers Day, tools are the norm for Fathers Day. But you’ve seen Dad’s shop. Buying another tool for him was something like buying another reindeer for Santa.

Not that he minded. An extra screwdriver or pair of pliers can always find home on the workbench. He was a Dad, after all. The real present was the smile and gleam in his children’s eye.

Some of the best presents you and Garrett gave me were the little trinkets you made yourself. And I actually love getting ties. My favorites are the two you made for me with handprints of your own children. Grandkid chic. Those ties also marked my graduation from mere “father” to “grandfather.”

Son-to-father-to-grandfather. Some men never make it or don’t appreciate it if they do. But I find it wondrous. My dad’s genes became my genes, then yours and Garrett’s genes, the Briton and Evie’s genes. Garrett is next in line to move up from sonhood.

Fathers Day reminds me that I have a responsibility to the future and a legacy no one can take away. I see my dad now only in photos and the Bentley nose. But I feel him in the things I do and the words I say. Sometimes it is the way I stand or the way I walk. The Father of All Fathers Day gifts is catching those same mannerism in you, Garrett or even Evie or Briton.

So thanks, Gillian. You made my (Fathers) Day.


Monday, June 08, 2015

Thankfully, there is no cure for the Green Plague

It would be overly polite to call the place where my father grew up a “dirt farm.” Dirt, yes. Farm, no. It was more of a divot in the vast forest of northern Idaho with enough bare ground that you could coax cabbage, potatoes and other hearty vegetables through the brief mountain summer.
The 10 Bentley kids did the vegetable coaxing at the end of hoe handles, but only because my notoriously stern grandfather had and used a bigger stick. There was no way in the world he was going pay good money for undistilled consumables.

Dad, then, had a hard time seeing gardening as a hobby. It was a chore that put food on the table. He planted gardens during the leanest times of my boyhood, but treated them a small farms that would ease the grocery budget. He even tried to introduce us to a frost-fighting, north country favorite – Swiss chard. My brother and I drew the line there. We would hoe the weeds, but not eat something with the culinary appeal of pond scum. Or kale.

But when I was in about seventh grade, I caught the Green Plague. I was a voracious reader who became fascinated by stories of farm life, huge vegetables and loan between your toes. Dad thought I had gone mad when tilled and planted a plot near the house. I’m sure he chuckled, however, while I was learning that pulling weeds and