What do I know about my father’s secrets? I lived with him for 17 years and we had many a long talk. But they weren’t just long talks, they were much more than that. Dad was a storyteller. His stories transported me to far off places in Europe, Asia, and South America. Yet, with all of that, there remained stories that went untold. – For decades now, I have wondered if I didn’t ask him the right questions, or if these untold stories were my father’s secrets?
My Father – What I know and what I don’t.
In the early 1950s, Dad traveled to Peru for a big engineering job. Although he didn’t say it, while in Peru, he traveled from one end of the country to the other. That’s because the pictures and artifacts he brought back add more to his story.
For example, I still have an ashtray he gave me from the Chimu Hotel in the town of Chimbote. The picture you see here is Dad standing in front of a fishing boat and several reed boats (caballitos de totora). The location probably was on the Pacific coast near Huanchaco, Peru, northwest of Chimbote.
The problem for me, however, is for all I know about Dad’s time in Peru, there is so much I more don’t know. I never asked the question, and he never ventured to tell the story. The same can be said about so many periods in his life. Perhaps there wasn’t enough time to tell the story, or perhaps he thought there was no need for me to know.
Other Fathers and Their Stories
Just yesterday, my beautiful Wife and I told a story to one of our grandson’s. It was a story about his dad, our son. It is a story that we treasure and have recalled many times since the 1980s when it happened. Our son, though very young, met and talked with the Papal Nuncio. In fact, he even gave the Papal Nuncio a letter for the Pope. Sometime later, the Papal Nuncio sent a letter to our son telling him that he was in the prayers of the Pope.
The point is our son had not kept this a secret. He had merely never told the story. And which of his children would ever think to ask such a question? – Sometimes a father’s secrets are unintentional.
My Own Secrets
Not all fathers started out as good men. Many of us fathers are still working at becoming good men. In that sense, we don’t want our children to be the men we were. As father’s, our job is to strive to teach our children how to become the men we would want to be.
Like my father, I have become a storyteller. Many of my stories fictionalize real events from my younger years. Sometimes, I tend to embellish the stories with colorful and incredible details. Believe me, I have told a lot of whoppers along the way. Nevertheless, it’s important to tell these stories. This is because my children and grandchildren might not think of asking me the question. Yet years from now, they might wish they had.
But since I was the man I was, there are some stories that I need not tell. And just as it was with my father, that’s okay. My job is not to discourage or dishearten. Rather, my job is to strive to teach my children and grandchildren how to become like the man I would want to be.
What Man would I want to be?
So, thinking about all the joy I experienced this Father’s Day, perhaps it’s time answer the question for my dad, and for my son, and for myself. What man, what father, what father without secrets would I want to be? – – – See for yourself.