I don’t love Father’s Day. Mostly because I spoke to my father for the last time on Father’s day back in 1996. He wasn’t feeling well, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and the words I remember were: "I don’t feel well, let me give you to your mother." Better than the actual last word’s that Marshall got: "that fungus thing is acting up again;" but not as good as the words just before those: "I love you" (don’t get the reference? check here.)
As a son I was by no means the worst, but still I was not the best. My father loved me, much in the same way that a drill instructor loves a new set of recruits. He wanted the best for me, and while his discipline was very (very) strong (yes, he hit me with belts and switches, and I more than deserved it,) the care part was there, wanting the best for me. He taught me to treat everyone equal. We tore down the fence of our neighbor who was the only non-Caucasian person in the neighborhood. I still remember the gist of his words, along with the geographic location of that belt utilization: "he has enough trouble just being different." Times have changed, but it is a lesson I still carry today, and not just based on the color of a person’s ethnicity. Love your neighbor.
He was actually who got me into SQL, indirectly. When I was in high school, he had me take a class that I insisted was just for girls (I think there may have been a few football players in there too,) typing. I was never going to type, much less for a living. Ha! (I also took home economics, which was a good thing too, though apparently it is now called: family and consumer sciences.)
Then, he helped me get my first computer, a Commodore 64, with the most horrible off-brand TV for a monitor. We were relatively poor at the time, him being between careers (after losing his management position at a car dealer to the owner’s son, he quit, took about a year off, and ended up with a great position with the USDA Forest Service, managing their fleet), and it was a great inspiration over the years, after my brain realized all that had occurred. My love of computers started there, though I was still working on an engineering degree, which I failed at. He had always questioned if that was what I should do, and to be realistic, my head was not where it should have been (you can guess where it was at.) It took me time to get back in school, and finally to work on a Computer Science degree. The rest is more than I am going to write about here 🙂
Though we were never close in a buddy buddy manner, I feel his influence even today. We were similar teachers. If you don’t want to learn, we are terrible. He was a master mechanic, but could never teach me a thing about cars. He was, by all accounts, a great driving instructor in his job, and won many awards for the job he did. I love teaching people about SQL, because everyone who attends my sessions does it because they love the subject.
The other part of Father’s Day I do like is being a father, though it is difficult too. Am/Was I a great father? I don’t know. I never felt like a bad father (embarrassing at times for sure,) but never "great". I don’t know how some of the SQL community does it. Speaking, writing, consulting on the road, I applaud you if you can balance things with being a parent. I remember sitting in many volleyball, basketball, and school musicals on my Palm Pilot writing/editing/planning my first book.
My daughter was 10, 11, and/or 12 then. She is not now, as one of my grandkids is 8! If we measured SQL programmers by whether their children became nerds too, then I did fail big time. I never did a great job teaching her much of any skills, and she never really cared about technical things. But my son-in-law is currently working in IT, and my 8 year old granddaughter loves math.
Happy Father’s Day, and thanks to all of the dads out there…